Sophia “Rosie” Contino
University of Denver - 2022
Provides one-on-one sexual health education for young people with developmental and physical disabilities.
Project: I am hoping to partner with Denver assisted living communities and special education schools to provide one-on-one sexual health education for young people with developmental and physical disabilities. I also would like to raise awareness against sexual assault perpetrated against young people living with these disabilities.
Inspiration: I was inspired to pursue this project initially through my work with the Sexual Assault Victims Advocate (SAVA). In my time at SAVA, I was made aware of a disturbing statistic: Children with disabilities are four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than children without (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000). After more research, I discovered that this issue is not only disturbingly widespread but also devastatingly underreported and virtually unknown to the general public.
Once I became aware of this issue, I could not stop thinking about it. Since my own brother was born with Sotos Syndrome, I have an understanding of just how vulnerable people living with developmental disabilities can be. I continued to learn about this problem and came to the conclusion that people with disabilities are subject to abuse primarily because the majority of them have no sexual health education; if they were to experience sexual abuse, they couldn‚Äôt report it because they themselves are not sure what happened.
Future Plans for Project: I want to empower people living with both developmental and physical disabilities by providing them with an individualized sexual health education so that they are less vulnerable to sexual abuse.