Racial/ethnic and gender disparities in child protection decision-making: What role do stereotypes play?

Floor Middel*, Mónica López López, John Fluke, Hans Grietens

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

2 Citaten (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Background. A wide range of studies have revealed racial/ethnic and gender disparities in child protection decision-making.

Objective. This study investigated whether disparities are mediated by stereotypes that professionals may hold, by applying the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) which suggests that stereotypes are formed by perceptions of sociability, morality, and competence.

Participants and setting. 258 professionals (133 current staff and 125 trainees) from Colorado participated in the study.

Methods. The study applied a 2 × 3 randomized experimental vignette design. Participants read a case in which the gender of the parent responsible for maltreatment (mother or father) and race/ethnicity of the family (white, Black, or Latinx) varied.

Results. A SEM model (CFI = .94, RMSEA = .05) with free parameters for trainees and current staff was estimated. No significant association between stereotypes and race/ethnicity and gender appeared. However, evidence for disparities emerged. In the trainee group, scores to decide for a supervision order were higher for white fathers, Black mothers, Latinx mothers, and Latinx fathers (β = 0.18 to 0.25) compared to white mothers. Current staff provided larger risk scores for Black mothers and both Latinx parents (β = 0.20 to 0.22) compared to the white mother, resulting in increased inclinations to decide for a supervision order (β = 0.26). Lastly, negative perceptions of morality increased supervision order scores (β = −0.55 to −0.36).

Conclusions. Evidence for disparities in decision-making appeared, but the study could not confirm that these disparities were mediated by stereotypes. Furthermore, perceptions of morality seemed to impact decision-making processes.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's16
TijdschriftChild Abuse & Neglect
StatusPublished - mei-2022

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