Crime and Inclusion – People with Disabilities Deserve the Opportunity to Live Independently in the Community with Their Peers.
In an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state director of The Arc Wisconsin addressed the brutal attack on a Chicago teenager with disabilities and urged that it not be used to make the case against community inclusion.
Her comments were in response to a commentary that proffered the logic that the horrific incident proved the need to keep individuals with disabilities secluded from our unsafe society.
Representing her agency and four other statewide disability organizations, Lisa Pugh decried the notion, with passion and supporting evidence to the contrary. Bottom line: you cannot promote awareness and acceptance of persons with disabilities by keeping them separate from society and denying them the ability to create the relationships that provide safety.
We would add that there’s another side of the equation, as seclusion does not only impact the human rights of an individual with a disability, it denies society of many eager, willing participants in our social organizations and businesses and interactions that can make us all better people.
Further, as the world struggles with inclusion issues regarding gender, class and disabilities, we can’t let an isolated incident suggest a “quick fix” for one segment before moving onto the next. The effort to include people with disabilities in our communities is far from over. We can’t afford a step backward.