Understanding Trauma Through a Gender Lens

The majority of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have experienced trauma throughout their lives (Brosky & Lally, 2004; Cauffman et al., 1998). In fact, traumatic events, such as child abuse and domestic violence, place youth at risk of delinquency (Herrera & McCloskey, 2001; Widom, 1995). Research consistently demonstrates a strong relationship between trauma and a host of problem behaviors, especially among girls (Chesney-Lind 1989; Simkins & Katz, 2004). In general, there are important gender differences related to the prevalence, impact, and treatment needs of boys and girls, which require gender-specific responses (Belknap & Holsinger, 2006; Dembo et al., 1992; McCabe et al., 2002). While there is an increasing recognition of the prominent role that trauma plays in the lives of justice system-involved youth, there remains a lack of trauma-related treatment and services to meet their needs and aid in their healing and recovery.