Primary Sources: Preventing and Treating Trauma in Young People

Photograph of a teen girl with her hands around her face.

"Healing Invisible Wounds: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense" (PDF, 197 KB) Justice Policy Institute. Published July 2010.

What it's about: Children are rarely screened for traumatic experiences, which can affect their brain development and increase the likelihood that they will end up in the juvenile or criminal justice system, another source of trauma. This article outlines the detailed effects of trauma on children and recommends trauma-informed care models, as well as ways to prevent it in the first place.

Why read it: Many runaway and homeless youth have had traumatic experiences, such as witnessing or experiencing physical or sexual abuse and violence at home or on the street. In addition, children of incarcerated parents are disproportionately represented in the justice system, another source of traumatic experiences.

Biggest take away for youth workers: "Prior to contact with the justice system, other child-serving organizations have an opportunity to intervene on behalf of the children they may encounter," the authors write. Youth-serving organizations can provide practical, trauma-focused education for staff, as well as services and treatment programs for children and youth who have experienced trauma. Organizations can also work to ensure young people who have broken the law are placed in community-based treatment facilities rather than prison, whenever possible.

Additional reference: This website contains practical guides to child and adolescent screening tools for post-traumatic stress symptoms, some of which are free.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of these and other publications.)


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