A cognitive perspective on ethnicity, race, and termination of parental rights

Sandra T. Azar, Corina L. Benjet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The determination of parental "fitness" in termination of parental rights cases is open to much judicial discretion and, thus, potentially open to bias. Even if judges look to mental health professionals as expert witnesses, misattributions of racial and ethnic cues may still be likely given the poor state of our parenting models and the lack of ethnically and racially relevant normative data and measurement instruments. A social cognitive framework is used to examine the potential for bias in the nature of categories of information that judges and mental health evaluators currently use to make decisions. Recommendations for research and practice that might enhance judicial and mental health evaluator sensitivity to racial and ethnic differences in interaction, family structure, and parenting practices are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-268
Number of pages20
JournalLaw and human behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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