Special Needs Children
Without question, the most vulnerable group of children are those with special needs. ELI contends that Special needs children are abused at a rate ten times higher than that of non special needs children. Special needs children may not understand what constitutes abuse. If they do, they may not know how to stop it. Often if they try to report an incident of abuse, they are ignored or misunderstood.
I told my mother and she didn't listen. I told my teachers, and they didn't listen, and you tell me I'm the deaf one?
-Dafna, a 16 year old girl, to an ELI therapist.
Nearly three years ago, ELI was asked by the JDC to lead a pilot program to address abuse of special needs children. In conjunction with the JDC and many local agencies, ELI created a program in 13 Israeli cities. The program, led by ELI therapists with expertise in working with special needs children, educates parents, teachers, professionals, and para-professionals who work with special needs children as to what constitutes abuse, how to recognize it, and how to report it. ELI also works with special needs children themselves in order to teach them how to avoid abuse, and what to do if they suspect that they have been abused.