Impact of ACEs on our Justice System

ACEs sometimes result in behaviors that lead children into the criminal justice system. Suspensions and expulsions from school leave at-risk children vulnerable to negative influences, which put an extra burden on the justice system — a place where children often don’t receive the therapy and help that they need.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “youth who have been victimized chronically may develop a facade of defiance and toughness as a form of survival coping. The experience of victimization brings about a sense of distrust in relationships, and a disregard for consequences may develop as youth find themselves continually working to protect themselves. Importantly, youth who are victimized rarely see their victimizers brought to justice, which can instill a distrust in the justice system and low motivation to follow the law” (1).

Studies have shown that over 90% of youth who have entered the  juvenile justice system have experienced at least one trauma, reporting an average of 5 different types of trauma or violence exposure in their lifetime (1).

The differences from community to community make it hard to apply a one-size fits all solution to the implementation of alternative discipline practices. However, one way to relieve the criminal justice system of some of its burden may be to apple Trauma Informed Care Practices earlier in a victimized child’s life while keeping them in school (2).