I spend a great deal of time discussing as a society how we can find ways to trauma inform the systems that deal with children who have been impacted by trauma. So often we label, provide treatment, discipline and even punish our children and teenagers without understanding that they may be attempting to cope with traumatic memories or actually reliving the trauma in their own lives in how they are behaving.
In Philadelphia, there is a movement in the court systems called the WRAP program which stands for Working to Restore Adolescent’s Power. It’s designed for juvenile victims of sex trafficking who have also been charged with crimes. The program has been recognized for its effectiveness and helped Judge Lori Dumas win the first Innovator of the Year Award from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Dumas works to avert criminal proceedings with many of the adolescents through a team approach. She also spends a great deal of time helping other judges and juvenile justice systems become trauma-informed. It is exciting to see someone who has been nationally recognized to help our systems understand the impact of trauma in our children and teenagers.
To further learn about this program, this is the link to the Notebook article written by Paul Jablow: https://whyy.org/articles/juvenile-court-judges-waking-up-to-traumas-effect-on-kids/
We are gradually witnessing many more systems of care that deal with our children and families become trauma-informed. That provides for more accurate assessment, implementation of healthy interventions and changing the course of the lives of youth who have been compromised by the impact of traumatic adversities in their lives.
I believe this will save thousands of dollars in incarceration expense and find better alternatives for our children in our juvenile justice system. It is exciting to think how their lives may be enhanced by this creative approach.
I thank Judge Dumas for her commitment and passion for those in the juvenile justice system who have a trauma narrative. These are the ideal outcomes for those of us who are attempting to change systems to be more mindful and compassionate for those in our juvenile justice system. We believe initiatives like this will help to create a new and hopeful future for these children and teens for the rest of their lives.