Sex offenders with intellectual disabilities and their academic observers: popular methodologies and research interests

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2014 Feb;58(2):189-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01644.x. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Background: Over the past two decades, disability activists and scholars have developed research paradigms that aim to place (some of the) control over the research process in the hands of disabled people. This paper discusses the appropriateness of applying such paradigms to sex offenders with intellectual disabilities (ID). It exposes to what extent current research about this population is affected by these developments.

Methods: A content analysis of a sample of 80 articles across 20 academic journals was carried out. This recorded the data collection methods used, to what extent the views of people with ID were represented, subject affiliations of the authors and the subject matter discussed.

Results: Few studies make sense of the personal accounts of this population. Social scientists have mostly not engaged in this area of research, which results in significant gaps in knowledge.

Conclusions: We currently know little about the subjectivity of sex offenders with ID. Research that seeks to explore this may enhance our understanding of this population and thus contribute towards the effectiveness of preventative work and risk management.

Keywords: inclusive research; learning difficulties; learning disabilities; research ethics; sex offending; sexually challenging behaviour.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*