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Week Two with Journalist David M. Perry



Last week, you learned about David M. Perry, a history professor who doubles as a nationally known disabilities rights journalist and activist. He has a 10-year-old son with Down syndrome.

Not long ago, the Ruderman Family Foundation commissioned Perry to research the 260 occurrences from 2011-15 of people with disabilities who were murdered by their parents or caregivers. Perry was shocked at what he discovered.

In a telephone interview, he said, "First off, it should not be a surprise people with disabilities experience violence at a higher rate than other people. That's true across the board, whether that's domestic, sexual or state violence (i.e., policing or incarceration), violence from poverty, or, as in this case, violence coming from people who are supposed to take care of you."

In America, Perry learned, a parent or caregiver murders a person with a disability under his or her care about once a week. Again, no surprise. What shocked him was the unprofessional way journalists went about covering these heinous crimes.

He said, "For one, any given local journalist is going to encounter one or two of these stories eventually, depending on their geographical location. The question is when they encounter these stories, do they have the tools to do a good job accordingly."

Journalists usually slant these types of stories to make the murders appear as "mercy killings" rather than actual, real murders, Perry said. The media rarely question the murderer's oft-repeated claims of "hardship," which Perry said repeated the skewed narrative that financial or physical hardship was an acceptable reason for a caregiver to murder and as a reason for the caregiver to avoid incarceration.
He said, "If we journalists spread the message that it's understandable and sympathetic when parents kill their disabled children, what kind of message does that send to other parents?"

Also, in the 66 U.S. murders reported on just in 2015, Perry didn't find one instance in which a newspaper reporter used a reaction quote from a person with a disability or a disability rights group to get their timely perspectives on the murder.

Of this, he said, "Every city and state in our country has formal disability rights organizations ready to talk on the record about these issues. These groups exist and will answer email and telephone questions. It seems so basic and such an achievable goal for a journalist or editor (to get these reaction quotes). This should be Journalism 101."


Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

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2017 PlacerArts Summer Concert SeriesAuburn, CA- The annual and free Auburn Summer Concert Series returns for another season beginning June 11, 2017

Affordable Housing Fee Workshops in Auburn and Kings BeachAUBURN, Calif. -- Placer County has scheduled two housing fee study workshops in June, one in Kings Beach and another in Auburn

USA Fastpitch Competition in South Placer County this JuneRocklin, CA --USA Fastpitch is coming to Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin June 2-4 for three days of softball competition.

City of Roseville's $507 Million Proposed Operating BudgetRoseville, CA- The City of Roseville's proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 is available for review

San Juan Water District Receives Excellence in Financial Reporting AwardGranite Bay, Calif. - The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the San Juan Water District

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Roseville Firefighters Union Blast City's Proposed Staffing CutsRoseville, Calif. - With rising temperatures and fire season upon us, city leaders in Roseville have proposed drastic staffing cuts to the Roseville Fire Department


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