The effect of parental intellectual disability status on child protection service worker decision making

S. N. Proctor, Sandra T. Azar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: There is evidence to suggest that parents with an intellectual disability (ID) constitute a higher proportion of child-protective services (CPS) cases than would be expected based on the prevalence of ID in the general population. Researchers have suggested that the stereotypic assumptions and expectations that CPS workers have about parents with an ID might influence decisions and responses made to such parents. This study examined whether parental ID (having an ID vs. not) had an effect on CPS workers' emotional reactions, attributions and decisions about risk to the child, whether to remove the child and workers' general willingness to help the parent. Method: Two hundred and twelve CPS workers read vignettes describing parents who were labelled as either having or not having an ID. Workers responded to the vignettes by making ratings of their emotional reactions, attributions and decisions regarding risk, removal and helping. Results: CPS workers made significantly higher ratings of pity, willingness to help and risk for parents with an ID than for parents without an ID. Lower ratings of anger and disgust were found for parents with an ID than for parents without an ID. Parents' intellectual status did not have a direct effect on workers' attributions or removal decisions. Conclusions: The results show evidence for the influence of stereotypes regarding parental ID due to its differential effect on CPS workers' emotional reactions and decisions about child risk and their willingness to help.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1116
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Volume57
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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