The American Psychological Association said yesterday that sports teams that use native American mascots, such as the Washington Redskins, perpetuate stereotypes and harm the psychological well-being of American Indian youngsters.

The nation's largest group of psychological professionals called for an end to the use of native American mascots and symbols by schools, colleges and professional groups.

The call "is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people," the association said in a statement.

Henry Tomes, a psychologist who heads the association's department that focuses on public interest matters, said Washington's football team was part of the problem.

"We would suggest to them that they consider changing their name," he said. In response to the team's assertion that its use of the term "Redskins" is respectful, Tomes said, "if they talk to American Indians, who may be a small percentage of the fans, they would find that many would say that this is something objectionable. It's a pejorative term."

-- Shankar Vedantam