Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Roy Wood, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Manning

Third Advisor

Christina Foust

Fourth Advisor

Kate Willink


Racism, Bias, Child welfare systems, Racism, Juvenile justice and racism


Reports indicate that in the United States disproportionate numbers of African American children are represented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Studies also indicate disparities in the provision of services to African American young people. Some researchers claim that poverty is the cause. Others blame the high incidence of single-parent families. Others contend that individuals' biases and our racist systems are to blame. While it is almost certain that each of the aforementioned causes and many other factors contribute to disparate outcomes and the overrepresentation of African Americans in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, this project presupposes that causation is deeply rooted and intricately interconnected with the history of racism and injustice by the child protective system towards African American people.

Indeed, examining respondent parents, child protective services workers, attorneys and judges lived experiences within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, this qualitative study contends that a major cause for the disparities and disproportionalities is the correlation between race and the social cognition processes that subconsciously occurs within all communicants and is enacted through their communication. The process in which individuals exchange information provides entry into one of many potential areas of study that have previously received little attention from researchers related to the issue of disparities and disproportionalities. Utilizing a phenomenological approach, this study relies on in-depth, semi-structured interviews to collect and analyze the data.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Debra Ann Mixon Mitchell


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

124 p.


Public policy, Social work