Therefore, if child trauma can be defined by using the Three E’s, then identifying what
constitutes a trauma-informed juvenile court can be defined by the Three R’s.
Realization of sentencing that is trauma-informed requires that all staff in juvenile court
be trained to understand child trauma. Everyone in juvenile court should become trauma-
informed, including the judges, attorneys, probation officers, clinicians, social service staff and
administrators.170 Formal training curricula for staff already exist, such as the MacArthur
Foundation’s curriculum, Models for Change, the Mental Health Juvenile Justice curriculum (that
includes trauma modules),171 and the NCTSN’s curriculum for juvenile justice staff.172 Trauma-
informed concepts can be integrated with current staff training on de-escalation, suicide, and
mental health. Ideally, a court system would also help educate the youth and families. Other
resources include Psychological First Aid for crisis interventions and basic trauma information
for youth and families.173
Understanding child trauma also requires realizing the need for cross-system responses.
Appropriate trauma-informed system responses require a similar understanding and coordination
between multiple child-serving systems, such as juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health and
Once a court system understands child trauma, the system must be able to recognize such
trauma in the juveniles, families, and even in its own staff.175 Minimally, this requires that all
juvenile court pre-sentence investigations include screening and assessment of juveniles for a
history of adverse experiences and the presence of trauma symptoms. Multiple standardized
screening and assessment tools that incorporate some elements of trauma events and effects
already exist, such as the ACES Questionnaire,176 the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument
(MAYSI- 2),177 the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC),178 and the Child and
170 Michael L. Howard & Robin R. Tener, Children Who Have Been Traumatized: One Court’s Response, JUV. & FAM. CT. J., Fall
2008, at 21, 32.
171 Projects, NAT’L CTR. FOR MENTAL HEALTH & JUV. JUST., http://www.ncmhjj.com/projects/default.shtml (last visited Nov. 2,
2013); see also MODELS FOR CHANGE, MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING CURRICULUM FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE,
http://dev4.nextstepdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Overview-of-MHTC-JJ.pdf (last visited Nov. 17, 2013) (providing a
thorough background, overview, and guide on the curriculum).
172 See Think Trauma: A Training for Staff in Juvenile Justice Residential Settings, NAT’L CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK,
http://www.nctsn.org/products/think-trauma-training-staff-juvenile-justice-residential-settings (last visited Nov. 2, 2013).
173 Psychological First Aid, NAT’L CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK, http://www.nctsn.org/content/psychological-first-aid (last
visited Nov. 2, 2013).
174 DENISE HERZ ET AL., CTR. FOR JUV. JUST. REFORM, ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF MULTI-SYSTEM YOUTH: STRENGTHENING THE
CONNECTION BETWEEN CHILD WELFARE AND JUVENILE JUSTICE 3 (2012),
http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/pdfs/msy/AddressingtheNeedsofMultiSystemYouth.pdf; Information Memorandum from the Admin for
Child. & Families, U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs. 16 (Apr. 7, 2012), available at
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/im1204.pdf (on social-emotional well-being).
175 NAT’L CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK, JUDGES & CHILD TRAUMA 3 (2008),
http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/judicialbrief.pdf (“Just as there is a threat of burnout for mental health
professionals who work with severely traumatized children, it is very stressful for judges to deal with child victims of trauma. One
judge noted that often there is no process in place for talking about trauma with other judicial officers (e.g., when a child on probation
is shot and killed). Judges related that they frequently are working nonstop and don’t even have five minutes by themselves to deal
with their emotions about a particularly difficult case.”).
176 Got Your ACE Score?, ACES TOO HIGH NEWS, http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/ (last visited Nov. 2, 2013).
177 Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, UNIV. MASS. MED. SCH.,
%20National%20Youth%20Screening%20Assistance%20Project%20-%20UMass%20Medical%20School.htm (last visited Nov. 2,
178 John Briere, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC), PAR,
http://www4.parinc.com/Products/Product.aspx?Productid=TSCC (last visited Nov. 2, 2013).