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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social experiences of secondary students with intellectual and learning disabilities : school safety, victimization, risk-taking, and feelings of belonging VandeKamp, Karen Joy Ott


This study examined the social and behavioural experiences of secondary students (grades 8-12), comparing a school-based sample of 151 adolescents identified with mild intellectual disabilities or specific learning disabilities, and a school- grade-, sex-, and ethnically-matched group of adolescents without disabilities in terms of self-reported victimization, bullying, racial discrimination, gender harassment, sexual imposition, feelings of school safety, and belongingness, as well as engagement in high-risk behaviours (alcohol/drug use, violent behaviour). Results of a series of planned contrasts indicated that adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities and specific learning disabilities did not report greater rates of victimization or bullying, nor did they report lower feelings of school safety or belonging, or engagement in high-risk behaviours (i.e., drug use, alcohol use, violent behavior) than their peers without disabilities. As well, adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities and specific learning disabilities did not differ from each other on these indices. Sex differences were also non-significant. Bi-variate correlations generally indicated that the relationships between victimization, bullying, and associated socio-environmental variables such as school safety, engagement in high-risk behaviours, and feelings of belonging did not significantly differ between students with mild intellectual disabilities and students without disabilities, but did for students with specific learning disabilities. Specifically, findings from this study failed to find a significant association between school belonging and victimization, victimization and alcohol use, victimization and violent behaviour, as well as bullying and alcohol use for students with specific learning disabilities. Sex differences among these relationships were also examined, and for the most part were non-significant. However, there were a few exceptions. Namely, the relationship between feelings of school belonging and victimization was significant for boys with specific learning disabilities, but not for girls. Similarly, the relationship between bullying and drug use was higher for boys without disabilities than it was for girls.

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