Traumatic Brain Injury and Juvenile Justice

We just wanted to share some information about a recent webinar conducted by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Traumatic Brain Injury program on Dec. 13, 2011. The webinar focused on the growing problems associated with Children and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the Juvenile Justice System.

The overall goals of the webinar were to

  • Develop an understanding of the issues experienced by juveniles with TBI, including under-identification, symptoms, limited access to treatment, and recidivism;
  • Become acquainted with approaches to identification and treatment, including the critical role of partnerships; and
  • Review preliminary data showing impact of interventions and consider next steps.

To provide some context for the webinar topic, it is a response to the growing understanding that traumatic brain injury is a rapidly rising problem. Federal authorities do not know just how large the issue of TBI. Some estimates available from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control show that “approximately 1.4 million people receive traumatic brain injuries every year. Of children 0-14 years old, TBI results in 435,000 trips to the emergency room annually, 37,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 2,700 deaths.” And one area where children are the most vulnerable is in the juvenile justice system where it is estimated that 15 percent to 90 percent of incarcerated youth are affected by TBI.

But what exactly is TBI?

Well, The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) uses the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, definition.

“…an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psycho-social behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.” [34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.8(c)(12)]

So why is it important that TBI is discussed?

The Justice Policy Institute finds that “youth who have experienced trauma may be more likely to be involved in illegal behavior for a variety of reasons, including the neurological, psychological and social effects of trauma.” So, that is just one of many reasons why it is so important that these children are identified and given the appropriate care.

But to learn more about TBI, the HRSA Federal TBI Program, and to watch the webinar yourself, please visit the Traumatic Brain Injury Collaboration Space-TBICS.

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4 Responses

  1. My daughter has TBI and nearly died from her injuries in a car crash in 2009. Her behaviors are misinterpreted by the law. She has ended up in trouble with the law Now faces another court date, got drunk didn’t realize the police say she was attacking them her crimes are ridiculous!! She had been spiked and was found on the street passed out. She could be jailed for this. She is not a violent person but they said she was attacking the police and refusing arrest but their is a witness to prove other wise.are so aggressive with youth even without TBI what is going on. What future are we creating for our children. Why are the police not better trained to deal with situations rather than escolate the situation. Kids do not react the same as adults under stress and fear people with TBI certainly do not. I fear for my child if she is taken away and incarcerated this can only worsen her healing process as well as interrupt her schooling and volunteer work she does. I AM AFRAID OF THE POLICE AND JUVENILE SYSTEM VERY AFRAID. Help my child help me support her and help the police understand the difference between an illness and a crime

  2. If a brain injury leads to memory loss, fatigue, pain, personality changes, cognitive problems or any other kind of long-term issue, the future expense could be astronomical. When you ask for a consultation, they will be able to assess the situation quickly and thoroughly to determine if you have a case and how you should proceed. If the injury resulted from malpractice, you could be entitled to compensation. Don’t wait for the situation to work itself out if harm has occurred because of someone else. Call a brain injury lawyer quickly to find out your rights.`

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  3. Thought-provoking ideas ! I learned a lot from the facts ! Does someone know if my company could grab a fillable a form version to complete ?

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