Blog: Trauma

Top 21-25 Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | 2012

This has been quite a year for our juvenile justice blog. Not only has readership more than doubled (thank you!) but we've partnered with a number of great organizations and journalists to provide you with more frequent analysis, research and ideas for reform.
As last year, our articles explaining why "Scared Straight" tactics do more harm than good, continue to be some of our most-read and shared posts. But this year, we also took a look at the effects of trauma on kids, raise-the-age efforts and the Supreme Court decision to ban life without the option of parole for juveniles. 
This week, we're doing a countdown of the top 25 stories from 2012.
25. Mentoring: Best Practices for High Risk Youth
Mentoring has been shown to reduce drug and alcohol use and help justice-involved teens get back on track. Jessica Jones share five best practices for a successful mentoring program.
24. Inside the Juvenile Justice System: A Look at How the System Works
While readers may be familiar with the criminal system through tv shows, the juvenile system is less well-known and understood. The County of San Diego explains the juvenile system.

Tips for Talking to Kids about Violence

Children are naturally curious and may have questions about the violence they see on TV and hear about in the news. Research shows that kids want to talk with parents and caring adults about tough issues - including violence - and that those who have early conversations are more likely to continue to turn to adults as they grow older. But, it can be difficult to talk about violence with kids, so we have compiled a list of resources for parents and youth workers:

Topics: No bio box, Trauma

Coping After Shootings: Resources for Youth Workers, Families

The tragic and devastating shootings this week in Oregon, California and Connecticut have stunned their communities and the nation. In the wake of this devastation it’s important for the families, communities and children affected to be able to find a way to cope in the aftermath of the event. The Safe Start Center has a variety of resources that can help communities manage and find a way to handle this kind of exposure to violence and trauma.
Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children’s Exposure to Violence – A Guide for Families [pdf]
Survivors of these types of events may have been physically and/or emotionally hurt by witnessing the violent event. Children are resilient, but if the child has been affected it may be difficult to identify when something is wrong especially if there are no clear physical signs of harm. The above guide can help in understanding how to help children cope with the “invisible wounds” affecting them emotionally and psychologically.

New Trauma Checklist for Lawyers and Legal Advocates

According to the National Survey on Children’s Exposure to Violence, most of our society’s children are exposed to violence and trauma in their daily lives. Each year, millions of children and adolescents in the United States are exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities. Researchers have labeled children who have experienced seven or more types of victimization as “polyvictims.” For many of these children, this exposure can have both short- and long-term effects. Short-term effects include difficulty regulating emotions, challenges in cognitive development, behavior problems and attachment difficulties. Long-term effects include a higher likelihood of adverse health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer (Felitti et al., 1998).
In order to address this critical need, multiple efforts are underway to increase awareness, early identification, and intervention efforts related to children’s exposure to violence and trauma. One of the critical areas in need of training on the impact of violence on children is the legal system. Recently, the Safe Start Center, the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law, and Child & Family Policy Associates developed the “Polyvictimization and Trauma Identification Checklist and Resource Guide” (Checklist). This Checklist was designed to help lawyers and other legal advocates for children recognize the prevalence and impact of polyvictimization and perform more trauma-informed legal and judicial system advocacy. The Checklist, along with the Flowchart on Trauma-Informed Actions (Flowchart), can be used by children’s attorneys, juvenile defenders, court-appointed special advocates, and other advocates in both the dependency (child welfare) and delinquency (juvenile justice) systems.

Topics: No bio box, Trauma

Defining Trauma – Give SAMHSA Your Feedback

Increasingly, multiple federal agencies representing various service sectors have recognized the impact of trauma on the children, adults, and families they serve. In 2011, in its strategic action plan, SAMHSA designated Trauma as one of its key initiatives. This led SAMHSA to revisit its trauma-related concepts and programming and their applicability not only to behavioral health but to other related fields.
In May 2012, after an extensive literature and policy review, SAMHSA convened a group of national experts to assist in the development of a working definition of trauma and trauma-informed approaches, and principles and guidelines for implementing a trauma-informed approach to services. The experts included trauma survivors, practitioners from multiple fields, researchers and policy makers.
SAMHSA is now seeking input from the public and is inviting those interested in this issue to read and provide feedback on the complete concept paper, SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Trauma and Principles and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.

Topics: No bio box, Trauma

Using Yoga to Overcome Trauma

Certified yoga instructor Casadi Marino teaches others how to achieve yoga's benefts, but her expertise extends beyond the mat. Working at the Regional Research Institute for Human Services, she has studied the effects of yoga on mental health. Now a doctoral student at Portland State University’s School of Social Work, Marino has also seen yoga’s impact on her own life as she maintains her recovery from bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
Earlier this year, we read Marino’s article called “Yoga for Youth in Trauma Recovery” (PDF, 391KB). In it, she reviews the literature on how yoga affects youth with histories of trauma. We know many youth-serving programs use a variety of approaches to help young people deal with past trauma, so we spoke with Marino about the benefits of yoga and steps youth workers can take to help youth heal both emotionally and physically.
NCFY: How does yoga help youth feel safe?
MARINO: When people have been traumatized, they become fairly alienated, not just with others and with society, but with themselves.
Yoga really helps people to reattach to their bodies, helps them to own what’s going on with themselves physically while at the same time not totally identifying with it. So it’s their body, it’s their experience, but it’s not who they are.
NCFY: How can you tell if yoga is making a difference?

Topics: No bio box, Trauma

Stop the Trauma. Start the Healing: A Latino Health Context

Editor's note: On February 26, 2013, Jerry Tello and Juan Gomez from the National Compadres Network presented their Brown Paper at a Reclaiming Futures webinar. The webinar recording and slides are now available for download.

Census data indicates that Latino children are the fastest growing population in the United States. A growing body of research has highlighted the continuous plight of Latino male health and health related outcomes in this nation. The cycle of inequity has negatively impacted health outcomes for Latino boys and men. This disparity also contributes to unacceptably low levels of educational achievement and poor outcomes related to the social determinants of health. For example, a 2011 study by the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center indicates that 51% of Hispanic male high school graduates ages 15-24 years should expect to be incarcerated, jobless, or dead.
While the field of philanthropy has recently seen a notable shift toward investing in Males of Color (MoC) initiatives, gaps in Latino specific research, allocated funding and organizational capacity still exist. Essentially, funding targeting Latinos has been neither focused nor explicit. The existing body of literature that addresses the complexity of Latino identity, tradition and culture is under developed. Furthermore, trauma within the field of MoC dominates the conversation but does nothing to emphasize movement toward a healing aspect that this field so critically needs.

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | October 2012

Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of our most popular posts from October 2012.
10. [NEW REPORT] Community Solutions for Youth in Trouble
Over the past few years, Texas has shifted youth rehabilitation from large state-run facilities to smaller community programs. And they're seeing great results.
9. October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month
Last month, over 20 states are holding events to raise awareness about youth justice issues and the juvenile justice system.
8. 7 Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice
A new article from the New York Law School Law Review examines problems with the juvenile justice system and offers solutions for a more productive youth justice system.
7. NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic 
Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, young people in North Carolina partnered with police officers and community members to create a short movie against bullying.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study -- the Largest Public Health Study You Never Heard Of

This is Part Three of a three-part overview of the CDC's Adverse Childhood Experience Study -- the ACE Study. "Adverse childhood experiences" has become a buzzword in social services, public health, education, juvenile justice, mental health, pediatrics, criminal justice, medical research and even business. Many people say that just as you should know your cholesterol score, so you should know your ACE score. But what is the ACE Study? And do you know your own ACE score?
In the last 14 years, Drs. Robert Anda, Vincent Felitti and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published more than 60 papers about the CDC's Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Other researchers have referenced their work more than 1,500 times. Anda and Felitti have flown around the U.S., Canada and Europe to give hundreds of speeches.

Their inquiry "changed the landscape," says Dr. Frank Putnam, director of the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics. "It changed the landscape because of the pervasiveness of ACEs in the huge number of public health problems, expensive public health problems --- depression, substance abuse, STDs, cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes."

Rethinking Juvenile Justice: Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Crossover Youth

There are many reasons to be concerned about systemic failures that impede the promotion of healthy lifestyles for youth growing up in America’s economically challenged communities. Among the most notable are diminished academic institutions, lack of access to quality health care, limited exposure to the world of work, and trauma-induced behavioral and physical health effects associated with victimization and exposure to violence. And concerned we should be, as a growing body of research provides compelling evidence that these experiences persist far beyond adolescence.
As research linking childhood and youth experiences to adult health status has evolved, two subpopulations—youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems—have become the primary focus of policy and practice reform. Recent research, however, suggests we may be paying too little attention to a third and perhaps more vulnerable group—youth with histories in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Increasingly referred to as “crossover youth,” a recent path-setting report funded by the Conrad Hilton Foundation found “membership in the crossover group to be a strong and consistent predictor of less desirable [adult] outcomes,” including heavy use of public services, high likelihood of criminal justice involvement, lower educational attainment, and extremely high use of outpatient mental health treatment (Culhane et al. 2011).

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | September 2012

Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of the top 10 posts from September 2012.
10. Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
A recent Children's Defense Fund report looks at the cradle-to-prison pipeline and offers ways to disrupt the cycle.
9. Phoenix House Uses the West Side Story Project to Disrupt the Cycle of Youth Violence
By connecting law enforcement agencies and troubled teens through the West Side Story, Phoenix House is interrupting the cycle of violence and distrust and encouraging positive youth development.
8. Pilot Juvenile Reentry Program in Illinois
Right on Crime's Jeanette Moll looks at a program in Illinois working to slash recidivism rates by targeting the underlying issues, whether related to substance abuse or family problems.

[infographic] Children's Exposure to Violence

Millions of children are exposed to violence in their schools, homes and communities each year. A new infographic from the Safe Start Center takes a look at the numbers and shares ways to recognize and help traumatized kids at school.
Research has shown that the earlier a child is exposed to traumatic events, the less s/he will be able to cope and the greater the likelihood for developmental problems. There's also an increased chance of aggressive behavior which can lead to the juvenile justice system. A recent study found that 92% of incarcerated teens experienced traumatic events in their childhood. 
In addition to the infographic, the Safe Start Center has an entire toolkit for school administrators and educators that includes tips, practical tools and information on how to help children exposed to violence.

Topics: No bio box, Trauma

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts of August

We realize that many of our readers spent at least part of August traveling and spending time away from the computer. So, we've put together a little recap of our most popular juvenile justice blog posts of August 2012.
10. A Look Back on 11 Years of Juvenile Justice Reform
Earlier this summer, the National Conference of State Legislatures published a report detailing the progress made in the juvenile justice arena at the state and national levels.
9. Funding Opportunity: Improve Outcomes for Boys of Color
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced a new call for proposals for 10 grants of up to $500,000 each. The Forward Promise initiative is looking for innovative, community-based projects working to strengthen health, education and employment outcomes for middle school and high school-aged boys and young men of color.

Collaboration is Key to Addressing Childhood Exposure to Violence

Childhood exposure to violence - conventional crime, child maltreatment, sexual victimization, and community family and school violence - is pervasive in the U.S. The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) found that 8 percent of respondents of the survey, called polyvictims, had experienced seven or more types of victimization in the previous year.
Exposure to violence, substance abuse and involvement with the juvenile justice system often occur in the same high-risk groups and have serious consequences for the safety of all family members and the larger community. Behaviors such as fighting, running away, cutting school and/or substance abuse are some of the more challenging behaviors for the educational, child welfare and juvenile justice systems. But inability to pay attention, depression and poor self-esteem can be equally problematic for youth and their families.

Exposure to Violence has Long-Term Effect on Kids

Children exposed to violence express stress factors for up to a year, according to a new study from Penn State. This means that exposure to violence may have long term negative health consequences for kids.
From Science Daily:

"We know that exposure to violence is linked with aggression, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms and academic and cognitive difficulties in the short term, but little is known about the long-term effects of such exposure," said Elizabeth Susman, Jean Phillips Shibley Professor of Biobehavioral Health, Penn State. "Our data show that the stress reaction to violence exposure is not just immediate. There's an effect that endures."


PODCAST: Early Trauma, Teen Aggression and the Juvenile Justice System

In a recent podcast, Natalie Katz of Sage Publications interviewed Julian D. Ford, one of the authors of “Complex Trauma and Aggression in Secure Juvenile Justice Settings.” This study, written by John Chapman, Daniel F. Connor and Keith R. Cruise in addition to Ford, examines the relationship between trauma experienced by young people and aggressive behavior, especially in youths in the juvenile justice system.
Below you’ll find Natalie Katz’s main questions in bold, followed by my summary of Ford’s answers. You can also listen to the full podcast here (it’s about 15 minutes long).
What kinds of trauma are most often experienced by youths?
Most youths experience one traumatic event sometime in their childhoods. These events are very seriously threatening and fall into a few different categories:

  • Violation of bodily integrity
  • Violent trauma creating serious physical harm
  • Accidental trauma (driving collisions, falls, etc)


Prison or Prevention: Maltreated Children and the Juvenile Justice System

Over the last 20 years, numerous studies have confirmed that children who experience maltreatment are more likely to be referred/arrested for delinquent offenses. Maltreated children have also been found to more likely become involved in the adult criminal justice system. In fact, a 2004 National Institute of Justice study found maltreated children to be 11 times more likely than a matched control group to be arrested, and 2.7 times more likely to be arrested as an adult.
In 2011, the California Senate Office of Research released findings about the foster care experiences of California prison inmates who were scheduled to be paroled within eight months of June 2008. This research found that of the 2,549 polled inmates, 316 men and 40 women (14%) had been in foster care sometime during their youth and half of this percentage had been placed in group homes.
As a result of these studies, several child protective service (CPS) agencies, including the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles County (LA), have joined forces with their counterparts in the juvenile justice system to collaboratively service youth who were concurrently involved in both of these systems. These youth are commonly referred to as “crossover” youth. While LA was observing some initial positive outcomes from these teaming efforts, two leaders [1] involved in the effort wondered if it was possible through research to identify which of the maltreated children were the most likely to become delinquent. If this was possible, then perhaps new practices could be adopted to prevent these youth from becoming delinquent, thereby increasing the likelihood that these most at-risk youth would become productive adults versus adult criminals.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 1 in 29 Americans, from our country’s service men and women to abused children and survivors of rape, domestic violence and natural disasters. During PTSD Awareness Month in June, and throughout the year, we recognize the millions of Americans who experience this challenging and debilitating condition.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through an event that caused or threatened serious harm or death. PTSD may result in sleep problems, irritability, anger, recurrent dreams about the trauma, intense reactions to reminders of the trauma, disturbances in relationships, and isolation. Some people may recover a few months after the event, but for others it may take years. For some, PTSD may begin long after the events occur.
PTSD can be treated. Effective treatments are available, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and approved medications. Many people with PTSD also benefit from peer support.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DOD), are supporting new research to reveal the underlying causes of PTSD and related conditions, develop better tools to identify those at highest risk of developing the disorder, and develop new and better treatments and preventive interventions. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law, HHS is partnering with DOD and the VA to share our best ideas on how to improve the quality of health care for veterans and all Americans.

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.

JMATE 2012: Bad Kids or Hurt Kids? The Compelling Need for a Trauma Informed Juvenile Justice System

Starting in 2010, there's been a policy shift around drugs, addiction and treatment, and it could not have come at a better time, explained David Mineta (deputy director of demand reduction at ONDCP) at yesterday's JMATE plenary. More Americans are dying from drug use than from any other kind of accidental death, including car crashes and gun wounds. "This is a public health problem," stressed Mineta, before explaining that the ONDCP is prioritizing prevention, treatment and diversion programs in its forthcoming 2012 national drug control strategy. [editor's note: we'll share this as soon as it's out]
"Addiction can be overcome and recovery is absolutely possible," said Mineta. "And we need to make sure our young people have the brightest future possible. It's personal for us."  
Following Mineta's moving keynote on addiction and prevention measures, Kris Buffington addressed the issue of trauma and its impact on adolescents.
Buffington explained that traumatic experinces can substantially impact biological, psychological and social development in youth. And unfortunately, symptoms associated with exposure to traumatic events are often misinterpreted as indicating a young person has a behavioral disorder.