Characteristic Effects of Developmental Disabilities

The concept of “rights” is generally unknown to children with developmental disabilities:


Often do not make their own decisions persons in charge of them are in total control.


Taught to be obedient and dependent


Reluctant to express negative feelings or a desire for change


Refusal is not usually acceptable


Unlikely to refuse to do anything you ask even if child should.


Will not refuse the suspect either.


The Law is seldom understood:

“Against the Law” or “illegal” may not be fully understood, but is more readily understood than “within the Law,” since “the law” is an abstract concept. Child may think that law enforcement first responder is punishing them for reporting an assault.


Child may think that the presence of the first responder is a signal that they are in trouble.


Children are often told by their abuser that law enforcement will take them away and break up the family if they tell about the abuse.

Tell the child that they are not in trouble and will not get in trouble by

Baladerian, N.J., Heisler, C., & Hertica, M. (n.d.) Child abuse victims with disabilities: A curriculum for law enforcement first responders and child protective services frontline workers-participant manual. California: Child abuse and neglect disability outreach program of arc riverside.