how to adequately prepare these children for trial, as well as to assist them during trial, to
minimize re-traumatization in the courtroom.
1. Know the Signs of Trauma
There are countless definitions of trauma. The American Psychological Association
defines trauma in part as “an emotional response to a terrible event . . . .”34 A terrible event can
include rape,35 accidents,36 natural disasters,37 physical abuse,38 neglect,39 exposure to violence,40
as well as several other situations. Trauma can cause both short-term and long-term reactions and
Children who experience trauma may experience numerous symptoms such as memory
problems, poor skill development, uncontrolled temper, attention-seeking behaviors, excessive
screaming or crying, startling, inability to trust, social withdrawal, eating problems, tortuous
nightmares or other sleep problems, and compulsive self-blame, among others.42
In 1998, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and San
Diego’s Kaiser Permanente began a long series of studies that examined the effects of adverse
childhood experiences (“ACEs”).43 Eight different ACEs were examined: physical abuse, sexual
abuse, emotional abuse, witnessing maternal violence, living with a household member with
substance abuse problems, living with a household member with a mental illness, parental
separation or divorce, and having a household member incarcerated.44 These studies have found
that people who experience ACEs are at a higher risk for various negative health outcomes
compared with those who have not experienced ACEs.45 Some of the negative health outcomes
include depression, smoking,46 obesity, suicide, hallucinations,47 drug usage, sleep disturbance,48
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect are all crimes, and our justice system punishes
them with criminal sanctions. These crimes can unsurprisingly be traumatic events for the
34 Trauma, AM. PSYCHOLOGICAL ASS’N, http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/ (last visited Apr. 15, 2015).
38 Early Childhood Trauma, NAT’L CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK 2, 4 (Aug. 2010),
41 Trauma, supra note 34.
42 Early Childhood Trauma, supra note 38, at 5-–6.
43 Felitti et al., supra note 16, at 246.
44 Robert F. Anda et al., The Enduring Effects of Abuse and Related Adverse Experiences in Childhood: A Convergence of Evidence
from Neurobiology and Epidemiology, EUR. ARCHIVES PSYCHIATRY & CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE 174, 176 (2006), available at
45 Id. at 178.
46 See Valerie J. Edwards et al., Adverse Childhood Experiences and Smoking Persistence in Adults with Smoking-Related Symptoms
and Illness, 11 PERMANENTE J. 5, 7 (2007), available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057738/ (concluding that
adults who have experienced more adverse childhood experiences are more likely to smoke than adults who have not experienced
adverse childhood experiences).
47 See Charles Whitfield et al., Adverse Childhood Experiences and Hallucinations, 29 CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT 797, 802 (2005),
available at http://www.theannainstitute.org/ACE%20folder%20for%20website/26ACEH.pdf (concluding that adults who have
experienced more adverse childhood experiences are more likely to suffer from hallucinations than adults who have not experienced
adverse childhood experiences).
48 See generally Daniel P. Chapman et al., Adverse Childhood Experiences and Sleep Disturbance in Adults, 12 SLEEP MED. 773
(2011), available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21704556 (concluding that adults who have experienced more adverse
childhood experiences are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbance than adults who have not experienced adverse childhood