Disabled people become familiar with many special terms during their childhood. Some of the biggest terms are non-compliance and manipulation. In disability parlance, non-compliant is the worst possible thing you could be (outside of maybe a member of ISIS or something.) Whether the issue is mental or physical, we get it drilled into us that we should listen to everybody who claims to be in charge. However, the stuff we don't become familiar with, such as basic sex education can hurt us too.

Disabled people and peer pressure

The John R.K. Howard case is about more than just a white football player getting off for committing a violent sex Crime.

The victim, Antwon McDaniel, had been of the impression that a lot of the kids involved were friends even as they were saying and doing disgusting things to him. This is, unfortunately, common among a lot of disabled kids. They often have a hard time making friends, The minute somebody pretends to show them the slightest basic decency, they often go along with whatever they do until someone steps up and says something is wrong. Unfortunately, that usually happens after the situation has gone out of control.

This isn't helped by the fact that a lot of schools rarely teach disabled kids to speak up for themselves. In fact, a lot of them actively discourage it. Any time a kid with a disability of any sort expresses any sort of negative reaction to basically anything, they are often accused of being manipulative.

Usually, this accusation gets tossed around even when so-called "normal" kids get a pass for doing the same thing. It's inherently destructive. Instead, we're told to comply with everything else. It isn't a big leap from "comply with the group of older, stronger adults or else" and "comply with a group of older stronger teens or else".

Non-compliance and manipulation are important social skills that should be taught rather than snuffed out. A student that is conditioned to comply with everything will go along with anything.

There's another important skill a lot of kids in special education often don't learn: How to approach sex.

Sex (lack of) education and the disabled

Whatever it is about our culture, its portrayal of disabled people is unhealthy. We're either maniacal supervillains or poor childlike waifs. This latter portrayal has resulted in scores of kids with disabilities not being taught the basics of sex education. Teachers and parents often presume that these kids don't need to know about sex on even the most basic level and make no effort to teach them about it. Throw in the fact that members of this population are often conditioned to follow orders on pain of (often horrific) punishment and it's not hard to see why disabled people, particularly those with intellectual issues, are extremely vulnerable to sex crimes.

The two issues feed into each other.

I'm certainly not trying to blame the parents of kids who are victims of people like John R.K. Howard and I'm definitely not trying to blame the kids. However, what disabled people don't learn can and will hurt them. Parents and schools need to be proactive in teaching them how to assert themselves and knowing how to avoid bad situations. Failing to do so leaves them vulnerable.