Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

May 2021Vol. 22, No. 5A Systematic Review of the Impact of Trauma-Informed Treatment on Youth Violence and Recidivism

A vast majority of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have experienced at least one traumatic childhood event. Children and youth involved with child welfare often come into the system as victims of previous or ongoing trauma. Trauma exposure is a known risk factor for juvenile justice involvement, committing violence, and subsequent involvement in the adult criminal justice system. A systematic review in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice provides an overview of the use of trauma-informed treatment in juvenile justice settings.

In summarizing prior studies on the relationship between trauma, violence, and delinquency, the article presents the following information:

  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are linked to an increased risk of delinquency in adolescence and throughout the life course.
  • ACEs have both indirect and direct effects on juvenile recidivism.
  • ACEs are associated with adolescent interpersonal and self-directed violence.
  • There is evidence that many delinquent youth have impaired cognitive function due to early trauma.

The article notes that while there is extensive research on the benefits of treating adolescents with a trauma-informed approach, there is little research about the impact of trauma-informed treatment on justice-involved youth, or whether trauma-informed treatment reduces youth violence or recidivism. The authors conclude that further research is necessary to evaluate trauma-informed interventions at each stage of the juvenile justice system and to identify the most effective interventions to treat trauma and reduce recidivism.

To learn more, read "Much to Do About Trauma: A Systematic Review of Existing Trauma-Informed Treatments on Youth Violence and Recidivism."