Les Enfants Perdus

Asylum Reform, Parents’ Groups, and Disability Rights in France, 1968–1975

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Jonathyne Briggs Professor of History, Indiana University Northwest, USA

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Following the deaths of fourteen children at a children's residential facility in Froissy in November 1968, a moment of national interest in France in the challenges facing disabled children led parents’ associations to press for systemic reform. Concomitantly, social critiques following the protests of May 1968 focused on poor institutional conditions as evidence of society's failures. Though government inquiry into the incident placed the blame on the proprietors, media reports and advocates asserted the failure of the French government to protect the disabled. This viewpoint aligned with the rhetoric of reformers seeking to dismantle institutions to instigate social change. However, an alliance of reformers and parents’ groups did not materialize, even after the important reforms of the law of 30 June 1975. That law articulated the government's commitment to the equality of disabled citizens, but it had limited impact due to its failure to address conditions for the mentally disabled.

Contributor Notes

Jonathyne Briggs is a Professor of History at Indiana University Northwest and the author of Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities, and Pop Music, 1958–1980 (Oxford University Press, 2015) as well as several articles and book chapters on French popular music. He is currently at work on a monograph on the politics of autism in France since 1960, tentatively titled Perpetual Children.

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