As details of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary unfold, a myriad of important issues have been raised, issues that need to be addressed. As a Center for Independent Living that serves people with physical, psychiatric, and intellectual disabilities, we have paid close attention to the dialogue surrounding disability. Though there is no official information about the diagnosis of the shooter, some reports quote sources that suggest he was a person with a disability. Unfortunately, though studies have shown that there is no link between disability and crime, and have shown that people with disabilities are more likely to be the victim of crime than to perpetuate a crime, when disability enters the conversation in the wake of a horrendous event, it creates stigma and fear around disability.
In response to the stigma and fear, many messages have surfaced from the disability community and from members of media. These messages address the danger of stigmatizing disability and underscore the need to address the societal issues that led to the tragedy on December 14.
In this holiday season, our hearts go out to the many, many people who are suffering in the wake of the murders in Newtown, Connecticut.