Building Resiliency: Supporting Youth Affected by Trauma and Community Violence

Led by its Urban Youth Trauma Center (Chicago) site, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network is launching an Expert Speaker Series on “Building Resiliency: Supporting Youth Affected by Trauma and Community Violence.” These webinars will be conducted by nationally recognized expert speakers in these fields as well as NCTSN members representing service providers, researchers, and consumer representatives who can provide expertise on the impact of violence on youth and best practices for prevention and trauma intervention.

Trauma and Disproportionality in the Juvenile Justice system are intimately related constructs that evolve out of powerlessness. Disproportionality has many causes, but at its core, there is a historical component that has consistently and methodically stripped Ethnic minorities of power. This removal of power is further experienced in the number of traumatic events to which these individuals are exposed within their families, communities, and systems with which they have contact. This webinar will explore both the historical and current causes for disproportionality and the relationships between trauma responses, violence and disproportionality. The presenters will also pose potential avenues to truly engage families and communities in the formation of new systems and services, which are built upon principles of empowerment.
Gang-involved youth in the US have been likened to “America’s child soldiers”, particularly in regard to their exposure to trauma. Involvement in armed groups, from revolutionary movements to gangs, is a major contributor to children’s experience of trauma and concomitant psychological sequelae. Although in some situations children are forcibly recruited into armed groups, in many contexts recruitment processes and reasons for joining are complex and involve a degree of choice and social agency. This webinar will explore the conditions that contribute to youth affiliation with armed groups, including racialized structural and economic violence, individual and community traumatization, and high-risk behavioral adaptations to chronic violence. Findings of research with gang-involved youth and anecdotal evidence will be used to elucidate the pathway by which American children may join armed groups and the traumatic effects of gang involvement. Parallels between gang-involved youth in the U.S. and child soldiers in other countries, as well as U.S. youth who have been trafficked in other contexts, will be discussed. Current promising approaches to trauma-informed intervention with this population will be described and recommendations for intervention, research, and system reform will be made.
Community violence—especially in urban areas—is an escalating crisis for far too many children and families across the United States. Given the urgency of this public health issue, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network is hosting a national forum to address community violence in the lives of youth and offer examples of solutions through partnership and collaboration from various sections of the country. Presenters will include individuals currently involved in addressing community violence: youth, mentors, therapists, police officers, and federal agency administrators.

Crossover youth—those involved simultaneously or successively in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems—represent a population with specific risks and unique needs for trauma-informed services.  In this webinar, the presenters will discuss the processes leading maltreated youth to become dually involved in the juvenile justice system and will describe the characteristics of crossover youth with a particular focus on those living in urban settings, including the highly disproportionate representation of ethnic minority youth and girls.  Theories and research regarding the underlying developmental processes and trajectories that link childhood maltreatment to adolescent involvement in the juvenile justice system also will be presented.  A clinical framework for trauma-informed services and trauma-specific therapeutic and rehabilitative services will then be described, including models for intervening at the levels of systems and institutions, as well as evidence-based approaches for treating traumatized families and individual youths.  

Speakers will discuss the key causes, major consequences, and professional responses related to community violence and its traumatic stress-related impacts on youth, including: exploring the historic and contemporary causes of violence exposure among urban youth and their families, understanding the interrelated contexts of violence exposure that impact urban youth, and developing specific goals for implementing best practices for serving violence-exposed urban youth.

Refugee youth and their families flee their home country due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion to seek protection in another country. Refugee youth and families are often resettled in urban neighborhoods in North America that have high rates of community violence. In this webinar, the presenters will discuss the “double edge sword” that refugee youth experience in resettlement.