And I've been afraid. Oh, there are so many things to be afraid of as a parent. Add a disability that makes your child many more times likely to be a target of abuse and the worries just multiply exponentially.
The death of Robert Ethan Saylor has been making this fear seem so much more real. This is a man whose death was blamed on Down syndrome. Although his death was ruled a homicide, no charges are being filed against the three officers at whose hands he died.
At this point the talk is all about providing training so that these types of situations don't occur again. And of course they are needed.
But the investigation into Robert Ethan Saylor's death seems to have stopped after the grand jury ruling. There is a large push by families of those with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities to instigate an outside investigation, one that has not been performed.
The fact is that a man died. The world can try to blame Down syndrome or a heart condition or argue that his parents failed and that he shouldn't have been left alone. But to all of the parents who are raising children with intellectual disabilities, parents who are trying to raise children with some kind of independence, children who are able to not only be a part of but actually contribute to our society... what kind of message is this sending us? What kind of message is it sending our children?
We know that our children are worth it; that they are valued human beings. But wiping Mr. Saylor's death under the rug and accepting that Down syndrome is to blame leaves all our children vulnerable. How can we send our kids out into a world that views their abuse as justified? How can we settle for the message that our children are worth less?
We must speak out.
You can speak out too, if you haven't already.
You can sign the petition at Change.org for an independent investigation of Robert Ethan Saylor's death.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION!
You can write to the U.S. Department of Jusice by e-mail or by mail: (Thank you to my friend Meriah for posting this information along with the sample letter than I am including here.)