A critical element of the juvenile justice reform narrative in the past decade has been our elevated understanding of the role that trauma plays in the experiences of young people - particularly those involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. With traumatic events and victimization affecting millions of youth each year, childhood trauma has genuinely become a pressing public health issue.
Our heightened awareness of the impact of trauma, the development of screening practices to help identify young people who are suffering from symptoms associated with trauma and the advent of so-called trauma-informed strategies at nearly every step of the juvenile justice continuum have all been positive developments. In January, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) released a comprehensive publication on trauma. Yet, there is still significant work to be done. The overuse of detention and incarceration and an under-appreciation of the impact that persistent racial and ethnic biases in youth-serving systems have on young people and their families remains a major blind spot in our nation’s approach to youth justice and to trauma.
At Reclaiming Futures we seek to support youth justice systems around the country as they take the next big leap in reforming their systems by not only integrating effective and trauma-informed treatment practices but by building a public health-informed and equitable justice system that partners with families and communities to deliver genuinely healing and restorative response to youth who run afoul of the law.
Updated: February 08 2018