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Terminating parental rights: the relation of judicial experience and expectancy-related factors to risk perceptions in child protection cases

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This study examined the impact of judicial experience and expectancy-related case factors on perceptions of risk in decisions to terminate parental rights. One hundred and thirty-three child abuse and neglect court judges read a simulated child protection case and decided whether to terminate parental rights. Three expectancy-related case factors (sibling presence, parent support, and information regarding the child's potential adoptability) were varied across eight experimental conditions. Data regarding judges' experience, emotion, cognitive style, and certain demographic variables were analyzed in relation to their perceptions of risk for the child returning home and the child remaining in foster care. Expectancy-related case factors predicted risk perception for experienced judges only. In contrast, emotion, cognitive style, and demographic variables predicted less experienced judges' decisions.

Keywords: child protection; expectancies; experience; judicial decision making; termination of parental rights

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno,Nevada, USA 2: Systems Change Solutions, Inc., White Rock B.C., Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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