Study Reveals Racial and Gender Stereotypes Skew Diagnosis of Childhood Psychopathology

A recent study finds significant disparities in how psychopathology symptoms are perceived in Black versus White children, with serious implications for treatment and support.


In settings where the futures of children are often determined‚ÄĒsuch as mental health clinics and schools‚ÄĒracial and gender biases significantly shape psychiatric diagnosis and treatment planning.

A recent study conducted by Sungha Kang and colleagues reveals the pervasive nature of racial and gender biases in child psychiatry.

The findings indicate a consistent pattern where Black children, particularly boys, are more likely to be perceived as having behavioral problems. At the same time, their symptoms of anxiety or depression might be overlooked or misinterpreted.

‚ÄúAlthough there is a vast body of research on racial stereotypes, few studies have examined racial stereotypes about psychiatric symptoms,” the authors write.
“To promote racial equity in all child-serving institutions in the United States, including the mental healthcare system, it is important to understand the extent to which adults hold racial stereotypes about psychopathology symptoms in children.‚ÄĚ

The findings suggest that White adults more often pathologized Black children than did Black adults. However, all adults implicitly applied racial biases to children presenting with oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, and depression.

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