Mental Health Professionals as Pawns in Oppressive Practices: A Case Example Concerning Psychologists' Involvement in the Denial of Education Rights to Roma/Gypsy Children

Grover, Sonja
March 2007
Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry;Spring2007, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p14
Academic Journal
This article examines a 2006 European Court of Human Rights judgment concerning educational discrimination against Roma children in the Czech Republic and the involvement of educational psychologists in the case. The court held the school to be the proper final arbiter on the question of the best interests of the child regarding educational placement. Based largely on culturally biased psychological testing results, the Roma children in question were declared mentally handicapped by educational psychologists. On that basis, they were placed in a segregated school for the intellectually disabled where the curriculum was quite deficient. Despite statistical evidence of the overrepresentation of Roma children in such segregated Czech schools, and of widespread discrimination against Roma in schools and in the larger society, the court rejected the claim that the children's right to an education had been violated. The implication for psychologists and educators internationally, to avoid becoming pawns contributing to an oppressive human rights situation, is discussed.


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