chapter  4
21 Pages

Abuse of people with learning disabilities

Layers of concern and analysis
WithHilary Brown

This chapter provides an overview of abuse as an issue in the lives of people with learning disabilities, and of ‘adult protection’ as a role in, and for, service agencies. Although the focus is primarily on abuse in institutions, it is important to note that abuse also occurs at home and in the wider community. Abuse might be what triggers admission to more sheltered or institutional service provision (Barron 1996), as indeed might abusing behaviour on the part of service users living in community-based settings (Campbell et al. 1982; Jupp 1991). Williams (1993) has suggested that ‘abuse’ as a term minimises the impact of incidents that are often serious criminal offences, such as theft, assault or rape, while others have argued that the term sensationalises relatively minor occurrences, insults and injuries. It would seem that people with learning disabilities have always been at risk in services, in their families and in their wider communities, so it is important to maintain a critical stance towards the current heightened concern about their vulnerability and question why it has emerged in this way and at this time. The bottom line will be if increased awareness leads to useful interventions in service culture and organisation.