Down Syndrome and Ligation

Children with Down syndrome are usually known to be loveable, joyful and sweet. Such docility and innocence usually wins them over in the hearts of many that they meet. However, what happens if they cross paths with danger?

Learn to communicate with special needs children

Learn to communicate with special needs children

Children with Down syndrome are usually known to be loveable, joyful and sweet. Such docility and innocence usually wins them over in the hearts of many that they meet. However, what happens if they cross paths with danger?

In 2002, Andrea Friedman (who originally suffers from Down syndrome), played a girl with Down syndrome who is raped in the crime drama, Law and Order: SVU (season 3, episode 22). Her character, Katie Tolliver, is not only raped but she becomes pregnant. The story then spirals towards many men who Katie comes into contact with daily, who may have taken advantage of her situation. The case is cleared when the detectives trace the rapist to the owner of a grocery store where Katie works part time. It gets worse. Katie never knew what she was doing was wrong as the owner had told her that sex was a form of exercise she had to do which she did with him frequently.

Katie’s case is nothing out of the norm. Statistics have seen how the number of girls and young ladies with Down syndrome have fallen victims of molestation and rape have risen in the last year. Boys with Down syndrome have not been spared either. Molestation, sodomy, etc are just some of the cruel acts that have been performed on them. Men and women with Down syndrome can be fertile but with a reduced fertility rate. However that is not to say that pregnancies have a reduced chance of happening. It’s tragic but what does this tell us?

Should children with Down syndrome be given a thorough education on sex or should we, the public, the people who are trying to put a secured fence around them to shield away such cruel acts, be able to pass ligation as a necessary rule for every child born with Down syndrome?

The Debate

Before anyone starts jumping and hysterically proclaiming that everybody should be given a chance to procreate, know this. According to recorded statistics, there is one child with Down syndrome born among every 4000 births and this is just products of people without Down syndrome. A British website informs that when one parent has Down syndrome, there is a chance of 35%-50% that the child would inherit the syndrome and if both parents have Down syndrome, the chance is, of course, higher.

Ligation arouses several questions. Firstly, by ligating these children, how are we teaching them the dangers of rape and wrongful forcing of anything sexual? Secondly, by ligation, besides an accidental pregnancy that may or may not happen, what else are we warding off? Ligation may be reversible however to conceive again would only see a 50 – 60% chance of ever happening. Before you disagree on ligation and say that should such a misfortune of an unwanted pregnancy happening, there is always the option of abortion. However, would you want to put any child with Down syndrome through the whole painful experience of abortion?

The alternative, of course, would be educating them. Over the years, many have voiced concern over how education for personal safety should begin early in childhood for children with Down syndrome. From the early nineties, it has been recommended that good touch/bad touch models should be used to aid in the education. Appropriate touching for each intimacy should be taught and open discussions held so that any concerns or worry can be expressed. Due to different learning styles, different homes and different levels of understanding, children with Down syndrome require and individualised approach to sex education.

Perhaps, the world will forever stand divided in this issue. Our mind, for safety reasons, would tell us to opt for ligation for a Down syndrome child while our heart, out of pity, would favour passing up ligation for an attempt in teaching them about sex. What is your take on this? Do you support ligation or an early education in sex for children with Down syndrome?

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