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Abstract

There is increasing pressure for the juvenile criminal legal system to address trauma; this is in response to advances in the science of trauma and adversity, evidence from interventions showing promising outcomes for juveniles coping with trauma, and development of systemic frameworks for providing trauma-informed care. This review details how exposure to potentially traumatic events can create primary, secondary, and tertiary effects that are relevant to how the criminal legal system engages with juveniles coping with trauma. Associations that could be dismissed on methodological challenges can no longer be ignored as an increasingly sophisticated body of prospective studies replicate previous cross-sectional and retrospective studies, which found a higher prevalence of trauma among system-involved juveniles and show that exposure to potentially traumatic events and trauma symptoms play causal roles in engaging in behaviors that can be classified as criminal offending. Additionally, several examples are used to illustrate how racialized exposure to systemic trauma across generations underlies racialized disparities in persistent criminal offending—over exposure to potentially traumatic events and underexposure to coping resources. A broad range of developmental and criminological research is drawn upon to provide frameworks for implementing trauma-informed care as a systemic intervention aimed at minimizing retraumatization and using every interaction that juveniles have with the criminal legal system to contribute to recovery and prevent recidivism.

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2024-01-26
2024-06-25
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