Safeguards are actions that are done on purpose to help reduce the risk that someone will be harmed. Informal safeguards in communities can help ensure that people with developmental disabilities are at no greater risk than the rest of us in our daily lives.
All of us feel vulnerable at some time during our daily lives. For example, you might feel like someone is trying to convince you to do something that is wrong or scary, or that someone is following you home. Or maybe someone is trying to intimidate you at a bus stop or on your Facebook page. Maybe you just feel lost and unsure of what to do. Our natural instinct is to look for someone to help us. Preferably someone you know that you can trust to be there for you. But, often people with developmental disabilities have a harder time having people in their lives they can trust — for a variety of reasons — but mainly because they tend to be more socially isolated, which puts them at greater risk when they face vulnerable situations.
Being vulnerable means you are at risk of being harmed or having bad things happen to you. Harm can come in many forms. It can be physical harm like falling down or being beaten up on the street. It can be emotional harm like being yelled at, called names, or not having your choices heard. It can be financial harm, like not having enough money to live a good life, or having someone steal your money. Being vulnerable can also mean that people don’t have basic things in their life that others take for granted.
Implementing safeguards in all aspects of your life, can ensure that you are not putting yourself or others at risk. The Internet can be a place where you can have lots of fun, learn new things, and connect with your friends. But you do need to “think safe to be safe” when you are visiting and posting online.