Punishment vs. Rehabilitation and the Effects of Trauma on High-Risk Youth
Studies show that 75 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events; 50 percent have endured post-traumatic stress symptoms. Additionally, system-involved youth who have been exposed to trauma are more likely to face overt behavioral and academic challenges.
Exposure to child trauma can lead to high-risk behaviors such as fighting, running away, and substance abuse, as well as the inability to focus in class, overreacting, and poor self-regulation. These behaviors ultimately increase their chances of entering the juvenile justice system or returning to juvenile courts for a repeated time. This vicious cycle has many officials within the juvenile and education systems concerned about how to handle these troubled and vulnerable adolescents.
The National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships examines this critical issue in their recent report Responding to Students Affected by Trauma: Collaborating Across Public Systems. The report examines the long-term effects child trauma, particularly for those served by public agencies.
Authors Cheryl Smithgall and Gretchen Cusick of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Gene Griffin of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago built on existing research connecting trauma and learning. Additionally, the report evaluates three national programs that have helped assess traumatic victimizations and provided behavioral and mental health services to students.
The authors urge a shared view of child development and an understanding of the impact of trauma on developmental trajectory, as an important step toward implementing effective, coordinated systems of care for high-risk youth.
To view or download this report, please visit: http://school-justicesummit.org/papers/paper_3.cfm
Shannon Kluss is a Digital Communications intern at Prichard Communications, where she assists on several accounts, including Reclaiming Futures. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism. She is a Portland, Ore. native, and Pacific NW enthusiast.