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Poll finds broad use of insult ‘retard;’ youths say they don’t use it

March 31st, 2009

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in conjunction with Harris Interactive, found that the use of the word “retard” as an insult is pervasive among America’s youth. From PR Newswire.com.

In a sample of over 1000 young people nationwide, it was found that 92 percent had heard the word used; 86 percent had heard it from one of their peers. Yet only 20 percent reported having used the word themselves. Only 36 percent of those surveyed said they had heard the word used to refer to a person who actually has an intellectual disability.

The survey was conducted in coordination with Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End The Word Campaign,” which is aimed at building acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities and ending the use of the word “retard” as an insult.

“The campaign is more than just getting people to stop using a word; it’s about changing attitudes and it’s about treating people with intellectual disabilities with respect,” said Gary N. Siperstein, Ph.D., director of the Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center and Professor at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies.

One Response to “Poll finds broad use of insult ‘retard;’ youths say they don’t use it”

  1. Laura Says:

    That 20% usage figure cannot possibly be true. On Facebook, I am friends with quite a few “youth” from my days working with jr. and sr. high kids.

    They are good kids, kind and compassionate, but one of them uses that word at least once a week randomly to demean themselves or jokingly insult someone else. 20% is way too low in my experience. It’s also a word used at least once in over half the movies I see that are aimed toward a teenage/young adult audience.

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