SRV in the News – Disabled Children are More Likely to be Abused

Disabled Children are More Likely to be Abused: Report

Why are children with disabilities more likely to be abused than children without disabilities? According to the above article, disabled children in Australia experience abuse at a rate 3 times higher than non-disabled children.

While there are many variables involved in such a statistic, students of SRV can look to Wolf Wolfensberger’s writings on societal devaluation and, more specifically, what he wrote about the wounds of devalued people as a way of interpreting the data.

According to Wolfensberger (1998) “Our society values competence, independence, and intelligence. Thus, incompetence, dependence, and low intelligence are devalued, especially if long-term” (p. 7). This is not to say of course, that disabled people are of inherent less value than non-disabled people. Rather it is simply that societal preference for competence, independence, and intelligence ensures that the opposite will be devalued by a society, and pushed to its margins.

Wolfensberger postulated an “if this, then that” articulation of SRV as a method of describing the phenomenon of societal devaluation. Thus, if one is devalued, then bad things are likely to happen to that party. If we are to agree that the disabled children in the above report are devalued, then we must concur that probabilistically, bad things, or “wounds” will be inflicted upon them. Of course, the opposite can be stated with confidence as well: If a disabled child is a valued member of the community, then good things are apt to happen to them or for them (Osburn, 2006).


Steve Tiffany



Osburn, J. (2006). An overview of Social Role Valorization theory. The SRV Journal, 1(1), 4-13.

Wolfensbeger, W. (1998). A brief introduction to Social Role Valorization: A high-order concept for addressing the plight of societally devalued people, and for structuring human services (3rd ed.).  Syracuse, NY: Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership & Change Agentry (Syracuse University).

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm by stevetiff · Permalink
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