abilities Awareness Act of 1998). In addition, the major child maltreatment databases mandated, compiled, and maintained by the federal government lack data on victimization of children and youth with disabilities. This lack of documentation is a major barrier to understanding the scope and nature of violence and maltreatment of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.
Even if the UCR recorded whether the victim had a disability, the data problem would not be solved because most crimes are not reported to the police at all. For example, in 1997, among all populations, only 37 percent of all crimes were reported to the police (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). The percentage is even lower for stigmatized crimes such as sexual assault. Thus the likelihood is low that persons with disabilities report most of the crimes committed against them to the police.
Violent crimes committed against people with disabilities include conventional violent crimes (homicide, assault, theft, robbery); abuse, child abuse and neglect (neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse); specialized crimes (abduction by family member, stranger abduction); family violence (domestic violence, spouse abuse, stepparent abuse); and noncriminal violent acts (assaults by other children, sibling assault, bullying, physical interventions/restraint). However, people with disabilities appear to be at higher risks for some types of crime. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they face abnormally high risks of physical and sexual assault and abuse. Studies from Canada, Australia, and Great Britain consistently confirm high rates of violence and abuse by caregivers against people with disabilities. Although there is little empirical research, published findings consistently support the anecdotal evidence.
One review of the available literature concluded as a conservative estimate that people with developmental disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victims of crimes than other people are (Sobsey et al., 1995). Sobsey and Doe (1991) found that 83 percent of women with intellectual disabilities in their sample had been sexually assaulted and that of those, nearly 50 percent had been sexually assaulted 10 or more times.
A survey of victims of crime administered (with appropriate modifications) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to a sample of adults with intellectual disabilities found that differences in victimization rates were most pronounced for the crimes of assault (3 times higher than for people