U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Examining the Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Involvement in the Justice System

NCJ Number
300568
Date Published
April 2021
Author(s)
Phelan Wyrick ; Kadee Atkinson
Agencies
NIJ
Publication Series
Publication Type
Issue Overview
Annotation

This NIJ Journal article discusses findings from seven studies on trauma and justice-involved youth that provide a deeper understanding of the pathways leading from violence exposure to involvement in the justice system.

Abstract

Childhood trauma caused by exposure to violence has profound and long-lasting consequences on psychological and even biological well-being. Delinquency and adult criminality, substance abuse, poor school performance, depression, and chronic disease are all associated with childhood trauma. This NIJ Journal article discusses findings from seven studies on trauma and justice-involved youth that provide a deeper understanding of the pathways leading from violence exposure to involvement in the justice system. The studies describe how trauma symptoms manifest from adolescence into early adulthood; trace the consequences of exposure to violence within correctional and residential facilities, in the child welfare system, and in the context of other factors such as poverty and gender identity; examine the links between exposure to violence and juvenile court involvement; highlight protective factors that reduce the likelihood of later offending for those with histories of trauma; and assess the effectiveness of trauma-informed treatment programs. Overall, the studies show high levels of previous and ongoing trauma among justice-involved youth.

Date Created: March 31, 2021