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Trauma, Psychiatric, Substance Use, and Thought Disorders Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice System and How to Deal with Them


  • Bobbie L. Huskey,

  • Paula Tomczak

  • Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article was posted on the Juvenile-in-Justice website, Reprinted with permission.
  • B.D. Perry, Applying Principles of Neurodevelopment to Clinical Work with Maltreated and Traumatized Children: The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, in Working with Traumatized Youth in Child Welfare (edited by Nancy Boyd Webb , ed., The Guilford Press, 2006).
  • C.S. Widom, An Update to the Cycle of Violence, Research in Brief (National Institute of Justice, Feb. 2001).


The personal stories that youth in juvenile facilities report to their counselors are heartbreaking because they are filled with accounts of excessive trauma resulting from neglect, physical, sexual, and emotional violence perpetrated on these children. Perry found that trauma develops from severe neglect, abuse, and living in terrorizing environments. Trauma changes the neural processing ability within the child's developing brain which can lead to hypervigilance and dysfunctional behavior. Widom found that children who had been abused or neglected as children have 30% higher arrests as a juvenile and as an adult for a violent offense.

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