Scientific article

A Complementarity of Social and Legal Perspectives on What Is Abusive Practice and What Constitutes Abuse

Published inJournal of policy and practice in intellectual disabilities, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 196-206
Publication date2013

Is taking the arm of a woman with an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) and pulling her along in order to carry out a routine domestic task an abusive practice? In spite of the existence of some approved definitions, the interpretation of the situation observed may lead to different opinions about what is considered abuse.With this in mind, the authors compare social and legal points of view via an exploratory study. A vignette was submitted to a legal adviser, two groups of parents of people with I/DD (n = 11 and n = 7) and two groups of direct-care professionals (n = 12 and n = 11). The vignette portrayed a realistic scenario in which a care professional, bristling with impatience at the slow pace of activity of a middle-aged woman with I/DD, urges her—in what may or may not appear to be an excessively forceful manner—to attend to a task. The corpus is composed of the legal adviser's analysis, data from the focus group and questionnaires filled out by the focus group participants. The legal analysis concludes that although they are not trivial, it is quite unlikely that the facts subjected for review would lead to legal proceedings. On the other hand, from the social perspective, both the parents and direct-care professionals saw the actions as an unacceptable infringement and a violation. The authors address the risk of the legal system only being concerned with more extreme “caregiving” practices. The application of a case study approach showed the usefulness of looking at “borderline” situations that are not actually covered by existing laws. The results indicate the need for more pronounced action, specifically in devising professional codes of practice.

  • Abuse definition
  • Abuse prevention
  • Focus group
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mistreatment
Citation (ISO format)
PETITPIERRE, Geneviève et al. A Complementarity of Social and Legal Perspectives on What Is Abusive Practice and What Constitutes Abuse. In: Journal of policy and practice in intellectual disabilities, 2013, vol. 10, n° 3, p. 196–206. doi: 10.1111/jppi.12038
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1741-1122

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