without disabilities), sexual assault (11 times higher), and robbery (13 times higher). Only auto theft was lower for the group with disabilities, and that was probably due to the fact that few of them had cars to be stolen. This study also found extremely low rates of reporting to the police: 40 percent of the crimes against people with mild mental retardation went unreported, and 71 percent of those against people with severe mental retardation went unreported (Wilson and Brewer, 1992).
Given the paucity of crime victimization data collected on people with disabilities in general, it is not surprising that minimal research has been conducted on infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities as victims of conventional violent crimes. However, one study of these types of crimes found that high school students with learning disabilities were more likely to be victims of crime (theft and sexual assault) than their peers without such disabilities (Bryan et al., 1989). Another found that students with behavior disorders were more likely to be victims of violent crimes (aggravated assault, robbery, and rape) than their peers who have learning disabilities or mental retardation (Lang and Kahn, 1986). Because these studies included only a small sample and had other limitations, however, it is safe to say that there are essentially no data on the criminal victimization of children with disabilities.
There is also rather limited information on the risk of child abuse among children with disabilities. One study found that children with developmental disabilities were at twice the risk of physical and sexual abuse than children without such disabilities (Crosse et al., 1993). A study for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect found that children with disabilities had a 1.7 percent higher risk of maltreatment of all kinds than do other children (Westat, 1993).
Many people with disabilities rely on a paid or unpaid personal assistant to help them with a host of daily activities, ranging from grocery shopping to bathing. There is no national general survey of abuse and violence by caretakers. The one study by the National Institutes of Health identified abuse by attendants and health care providers as a problem and found that women with disabilities are “significantly” more likely to be abused by this population (Young et al., 1997). Although boys and men with disabilities may also experience high rates of abuse from caretakers, there are no data to document this.