skip to navigation skip to content
For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop

Disability and maltreatment in cultural context: A comparative study of U.S. and Japanese children's experiences at school


Our aim is to allow U.S. educators and child welfare professionals to step outside of the cultural context that we take for granted to examine strategies that are creative ecologically and developmentally based for supporting the educational functioning of maltreated children with developmental disabilities.  Such understanding is necessary to designing and implementing effective prevention/early interventions for vulnerable children relevant to our own pluralistic society.

Project Summary  

As part of a long-term collaboration with Japanese scholars, we are focusing on children with “developmental disabilities” and maltreatment histories. In Japan, developmental disabilities are considered to be “milder, hidden” neurologically-based conditions that impact school functioning and achievement including Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and learning disabilities. There is some evidence that these children are at heightened risk for maltreatment relative to other children with disabilities due, in part, to interpretive challenges for adults responding to the behavioral and learning difficulties of children who appear “normal” and otherwise competent.  Our ethnographic research includes in-depth case studies of children with disabilities, participant observations at school and substitute care placements, and individual interviews with adults and children.


Bamba, S. & Haight, W. (2011). Child Welfare and Development: A Japanese Case Study.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

Bamba, S. and Haight, W. (2007). Helping maltreated children to find their Ibasho: Japanese perspectives on supporting the well-being of children in state care. Children and Youth Services Review, 29(4), 405-427.

Bamba, S. & Haight, H. (2009).  The developmental-ecological approach of Japanese child welfare professionals to supporting children’s social and emotional well-being: The practice of mimamori. Children and Youth Services Review,31, 429-439.

Bamba, S. & Haight, W. (2009).  Maltreated children’s emerging well-being in Japanese state care. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 797-806.

Kayama, M. & Haight, W. (2012).  Cultural sensitivity in the delivery of disability services to children: A case study of Japanese education and socialization. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 266-275.

Kayama, M. & Haight, W. (in press).  The experiences of Japanese elementary-school children living with “developmental disabilities”: Navigating peer relationships. Qualitative Social Work.