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Trauma and Its Effect on the At-Risk and Offending Juvenile

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Katelyn Fox

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Trauma and Its Effect on the At-Risk and Offending Juvenile

Trauma and Its Effect on the At-Risk and Offending Juvenile Population
Educate about the impact of traumatic experiences including home/family life and relationships, as it relates to the at-risk and offending juvenile population.
Develop insights into the connection between fear resulting from early childhood and the deviance in the child's development and behavior.
Recognize the different pathways, specifically trauma, to delinquency and appreciate the importance of focusing on those at greatest risk for serious, violent, or chronic offending.
Provide strategies to look beyond the child's difficult behavior, to then calm the fear response.
Trauma Screening and Assessment
Trauma screening
typically focuses on two core issues: 1) trauma exposure and 2) traumatic stress symptoms. In terms of exposure, it is important to determine what specific traumas have occurred at what ages, and in what circumstances, in each youth’s life. In terms of symptoms, it is important to determine what specific PTSD or associated traumatic stress reactions or trauma-exacerbated symptoms are interfering with a youth’s ability to think clearly and demonstrate healthy choices and positive growth.
Screening for trauma history and traumatic stress should be performed by appropriately trained staff. Most instrument developers provide guidelines for the level of training and/or education needed to appropriately administer the instrument.

Trauma Assessment.
Trauma assessments are more thorough and time consuming than trauma screenings, and are indicated when a screening suggests that a youth may be suffering from a trauma-related disorder. These assessments typically involve focused, clinical interviews that include, whenever possible, several components:
A diagnostic interview with the youth
Interviews with persons who know the youth;
A review of pertinent collateral (e.g., school, probation) information;
Observations of the youth within their home or school environment;
Assessment of associated behavioral [30] and self-regulatory [10] problems.
Each year, more than 600,000 youth in America are placed in juvenile detention centers, and close to 70,000 youth reside in juvenile correctional facilities on any given day.

Youth in the juvenile justice system experience mental health disorders at a rate that is more than three times higher than that of the general youth population.
1. 65% to 75% of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

2. Over 60% of youth with a mental health disorder also have a substance use disorder; and

3. Almost 30% of youth have disorders that are serious enough to require immediate and significant treatment.

*In addition, youth in the juvenile justice system have higher rates of exposure to traumatic experiences:

-At least 75% of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic victimization.

-93% of youth in detention reported exposure to 'adverse' events including accidents, serious illnesses, physical and sexual abuse, domestic and community violence--and the majority of these were exposed to six or more events.
Mental Health and the Juvenile Justice System
Lack of Shared Understanding
The major gap standing between traumatic stress specialists and the juvenile justice system is the absence of a shared understanding of the role of trauma in delinquency and rehabilitation.

Key Adolescent Development
Learn to think abstractly
Anticipate and consider the consequences of behavior
Accurately judge danger and safety
Modify and control behavior to meet long term goals
The Impact of Trauma Makes Them...
Exhibit reckless self destructive behavior
Experience inappropriate aggression
Over or underestimate danger
Struggle to imagine/plan for the future
In addition to its immediate negative impact, early child maltreatment interrupts normal child development, especially emotional control. For adolescents, key developmental processes may be hindered by their negative experiences, as summarized in the table below:
a concept that reflects chance or probability; when risk factors, which raise the chance of poor outcomes, outweigh protective factors, which raise the chance of good outcomes.
Individual, family, peer, school, and community factors
Juvenile Delinquency/Offending:

conduct by a juvenile characterized by antisocial behavior that is beyond parental control and therefore subject to legal action; a violation of the law committed by a juvenile and not punishable by death or life imprisonment


An experience and/or event that threatens someone's life, safety, or well-being. A key condition is that they overwhelm the person's capacity to cope, and elicit intense feelings such as fear, terror, helplessness, hopelessness, and despair.
Trauma and Behavior
Research has established relationship between trauma exposure, traumatic stress, and behavior.
Youth who have experienced trauma at home or in their communities may resort to self-help methods in an effort to feel safe--carrying weapons, engaging in physical conflict in situations they perceive as calling for "self-defense", joining gangs, and self-medication with drugs or alcohol.
Effects of trauma DO NOT end with arrest...it continues to affect behavior in day-to-day interactions as youth respond to painful experiences and loss, exhibited in:
Low self-esteem
Self-destructive behavior
Combative self preservation
Mistrust of adults
Perceptions of unfairness
Uncontrolled anger
Deep sadness
Extreme sensitivity to rejection
Chronological Pathway That Runs From:
A) early childhood victimization to
B) escalating dysregulation of emotion and social information processing ('survival coping', which takes the form of depression, anxiety, social isolation, peer rejection, and conflicted relationship) to,
C) severe and persistent problems with oppositional-defiance and overt or covert aggression compounded by post-traumatic reactivity and hypervigilance ('victim coping').
The Sanctuary Model
This model (Bloom 1997; Rivard et al. 2005) emphasizes the development of a trauma-informed culture which supports recovery from the impacts of traumatic stress, while simultaneously providing safety for clients, families, staff, and administrators. Seven key characteristics of the environment are addressed, with emphasis on building a culture of: Nonviolence, Emotional Intelligence, Inquiry & Social Learning, Shared Governance, Open Communication, Social
Responsibility, and Growth and Change. Across intervention components, treatment is approached within an understanding of the core areas, or phases, of Safety, Emotion Management, Loss, and Future (SELF). Intervention components highlight the role of training, organizational development, development of collaborative teams which include clients, and trauma-informed and trauma-specific treatment.
This model has been implemented extensively in inpatient and residential programs.
Trauma Informed Care
Trauma-Informed Care
reflects the degree to which and agency is actively screening for trauma symptoms and responding in ways that reflects an understanding of how trauma can influence youth behavior. An awareness of trauma is central to understanding and responding appropriately to justice-involved youth.
Traumatic Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC)
The TSCC evaluates posttraumatic symptomatology in children and adolescents (ages 8 to 16, with normative adjustments for 17 year-olds), including the effects of child abuse (sexual, physical, and psychological) and neglect, other interpersonal violence, witnessing trauma to others, major accidents, and disasters. The scale measures not only posttraumatic stress, but also other symptom clusters found in some traumatized children.


The TSCC is a 54-item self-report instrument consisting of two validity scales:
•Underresponse [UND] and
•Hyperresponse (HYP])

and six clinical scales:
•Anxiety (ANX),
•Depression (DEP),
•Posttraumatic Stress (PTS),
•Sexual Concerns (SC),
•Dissociation (DIS), and
•Anger (ANG).
Burrel, S. (2013). Trauma and the environment of care in juvenile institutions. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Dierkhising, C.B., Ko, S.J., Jaeger, B.W., Briggs, E.C., Lee, R., and Pynoos, R.S. (2013). Trauma histories among justice-involved youth: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Journal Psychotrauma, 4 (10).

Ford, J.D., Chapman, J.F., Mack, J.M., and Pearson, G. (2006). Pathways from traumatic child victimization to delinquency: Implications for juvenile and permanency court proceedings and decisions. Juvenile and Family Court Journal.

Ford, J.D., Chapman, J.F., Hawke, J., and Albert, D. (2007). Trauma among youth in the juvenile justice system: Critical issues and new directions. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.

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