What Is a ‘Trauma-Informed’ Juvenile Justice System? A Targeted Approach

Adolescence is a time of great opportunity, but also turmoil. As many as two-thirds of all teens face the additional challenge of coping with traumatic events such as life-threatening accidents, injuries, illness, disaster, or violence or sexual or emotional abuse and exploitation. That figure rises to closer to 100 percent for those who live in families or communities in which violence, poverty, neglect, racism or discrimination based on gender, gender identity or disability are prevalent.

Not surprisingly, 90-plus percent of youths involved in juvenile justice have experienced at least one (and typically several) of these traumatic stressors, and as many as 25 to 33 percent of these youth (compared to 5 percent in community samples) have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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