I’m often reminded of what it takes to be a true advocate for people with developmental disabilities. It takes courage coupled with reckless abandon. It takes a full commitment to civil and human rights. It takes a willingness to be ostracized or criticized for what you say and do. It takes balls. It takes something almost unexplainable about compassion, spirituality, and a desire to see justice served.
Yesterday I attended a training/workshop on how to investigate abuse/neglect cases regarding people with developmental disabilities in Oregon. I found myself wondering how many of the other attendees were true advocates of these very vulnerable people. I know my wife is. I hope the people from the Office of Investigations and Training (a state office) are. I already have my doubts about the rest of the folks there. Why?
Because of “compromise”. The fear of losing one’s job due to doing or saying something that might cause a genuine problem at work. I may be crazy, but I just don’t see the value in such a belief system. If you know what the right thing is to do, and you don’t do it because of this fear, how do you live with yourself?
This is not speculation. I’ve seen it many times over the years; from county Protective Service workers to direct care staff. People are so concerned with their own presents and future that they are willing to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to things they KNOW are wrong. You can read about it in the newspapers or on the internet all the time.
Maybe if there was a way for people to run into trouble BEFORE it becomes public knowledge that they dropped the ball, things would go better. There is none. They only risk things when they are SURE it’s safe to take such a step. That’s just not right.