Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 19 Issue 4 (July/August 2009), Pages 241-329

Parental negotiations of the moral terrain of risk in relation to young people with intellectual disabilities (pages 286-298)


This paper draws upon parental accounts from a study of the process of transition for a cohort of 28 young people with relatively severe intellectual disabilities who left special schools in 2004 and 2005 in two adjacent English localities. This paper examines how parents negotiate these boundaries and position themselves in relation to risk. A primary concern identified by parents during this transition period focuses on the risk of harm facing these vulnerable young people (whether through accidents or through sexual, emotional, physical or financial abuse) as they move into the adult world. These concerns are juxtaposed with discourses that increasingly promote the possibilities for people with intellectual disabilities to express and follow their own wishes and aspirations. For example, the policy agenda in England and Wales actively endorses the start of adult life as a time of opportunity for young people and promotes the values of independence and choice. In accounting for the management of risk in the young people's lives, we conclude that parents navigate complex boundaries between being seen to be over‐protective and ‘letting go’; between trusting others to act in the young adults' best interests and allowing these young people the autonomy to negotiate risk. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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