A Trauma Primer for Juvenile Probation and Juvenile Detention Staff

October 8, 2015


Juvenile justice probation and detention workers play an important role in helping system-involved youth and families navigate justice and social service systems; achieving goals of accountability, competency, and community safety; and promoting safety, self-determination, and social connectedness as conditions of healing. In doing this work, juvenile probation and detention staff are also uniquely poised to serve a critical social support function for vulnerable youth and families. Although much work remains to be done to elucidate the key policies and procedures associated with a true “trauma-informed” justice system, the tips offered here provide juvenile justice staff a foundation for understanding the basic dynamics of trauma, recognizing trauma reactions, and maintaining self-care.

This brief presents definitions of key concepts, overviews how children respond to trauma, and offers tips for juvenile probation and detention staff seeking to be more trauma-informed in their work.