Positive Adult Role Models Central to Teens’ Success in Juvenile Justice System and Beyond, says Report

A report released on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day details the extent to which traumatic events impact children and young people involved in the juvenile justice system. In addition, the report points out the importance of children and teens developing close relationships with caring adults soon after entering the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
"Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems,” examines the positive impact that the Children's Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) has had with children and youth by creating a “trauma-informed workforce.” Trauma-informed workplaces collaborate “to develop, implement, [and] evaluate effective trauma treatment and services. In addition, [they partner] with other community agencies to promote service delivery approaches so that trauma services are effectively implemented within local child-serving community service systems.”
Despite the fact that it’s possible for some young people to experience traumatic events and come out virtually unscathed, studies show that victimization can often lead to life changing consequences and result in a multitude of issues later in life. According to an NCTSN study, children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events are at increased risk of being arrested in the future. In some cases, young adults who have experienced traumatic events are as much as five times more likely to go through the juvenile justice system.

Eight researchers from ICF authored the report, which found that children and youth involved in the juvenile justice system and child welfare service and served by CMHI showed prominent improvements behaviorally and emotionally. For example, substance abuse and arrests fell significantly and suicide attempts dropped from six percent to one percent in only one year.
One of the key factors that led to children and youth improving their behavior issues was the development of new relationships with positive, caring adult role models who have been trained about the effects of trauma on young people. Not only do these new relationships increase children’s and youth’s chances of improving behaviorally, but it doubles the likelihood of them improving academically.
Overall, the report aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the CMHI and NCTIS in serving children and youth involved the juvenile justice and child welfare systems who have experienced traumatic events.

Melany Boulton 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 public relations and a minor in business administration.
*Photo at top from Lamar Gore/USFWS

Updated: February 08 2018