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Strengthening Policies to Support Children,Youth and
Families Who Experience Trauma

Conducted by: National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Released: July 2007 (PDF)

Trauma exposure among children and youth is associated with lifelong health, mental health and related problems which can interfere with effective learning. The impact of trauma can be mitigated by developing a support system that is trauma-informed, prevention-oriented and focused on improving the mental health of children, youth and their families.

The researchers reviewed current policies and practices as documented in literature, met with policy and practice experts and analyzed case studies related to the support of children, youth and families exposed to trauma.

Key Findings:

  • Current policy and practice responses do not support the epidemic levels of trauma symptoms among children and youth. In particular, children and youth of color, sexual minority youth, and youth at increased risk for suicide have higher rates of trauma. Exposure to trauma is particularly high for youth involved in public systems: mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice.
  • Much of the emerging knowledge base about trauma, intervention and prevention are absent in current children’s mental health and related policies.
  • Some policies serve to undermine tribal, state and local efforts to develop and sustain trauma-informed practices.

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