New resource for legal advocates

The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence showed us that children are exposed to violence at alarming rates.

Some of the results of a child’s exposure to violence can impact their development, understanding and mental health and could eventually land them in front of a judge who may not be aware of their exposure or victimization.

“Legal advocates working with youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems need to understand how past histories of violence and traumatic experiences can profoundly affect their clients’ health and their court cases,” said Lisa Pilnik, director and co-founder of Child & Family Policy Associates, LLC.

To help legal advocates understand children’s exposure to violence, the Safe Start Center partnered with the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and Child and Family Policy Associates to create Victimization and Trauma Experienced by Children and Youth: Implications for Legal Advocates.

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Mental Health and the Juvenile Justice System

By Elena Cohen
Director, Safe Start Center

Most youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system have been exposed to both community and family violence and many have been threatened with, or been the direct target of, such violence. We know that youth who have multiple exposures to violence or victimization are at higher risk for mental health problems, behavioral problems, substance abuse, and delinquent behaviors.   The effect of exposure to violence is cumulative: the greater the number and type of victimization experiences that a child experiences, the greater the risks to a child’s development and his or her emotional and physical health.

Youth who are victimized by abuse, and are exposed to other forms of violence, often lose their trust in the adults who are either responsible for perpetrating the abuse or who fail to protect them. Victimization is a violation of our social contract with youth and can create a deep disregard both for adults in general and the rules that adults have set. Distrust and disregard for adults, rules, and laws place youth at a much greater risk for delinquency and other inappropriate behaviors.

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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.

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