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While rates of trauma are high for all youth, they are particularly high for youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. This publication sets forth key risks of and opportunities for using research on trauma in youth advocacy. It focuses on legal strategies advocates can use in court, and the state and local policies needed to support these strategies. It also sets forth basic background, case law analysis, and policy recommendations for the juvenile and criminal justice systems and for the child welfare system.
This publication is the product of research and discussions with psychologists, psychiatrists, public policy experts, and lawyers who represent children in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Many of the ideas expressed emerged from a convening hosted by Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia in January 2013, which brought together experts across disciplines to grapple with the ramifications of raising trauma in the context of courtroom advocacy, as well as more fundamental and definitional questions about what trauma is and why it matters.