September 24, 2018

Child Trauma

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
COMMISSION ON YOUTH AT RISK
REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES

RESOLUTION

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges lawyers, law schools, and bar associations to adopt trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches and practices on behalf of justice system-involved children and youth who have been exposed to violence, including victims of child abuse and neglect or other crimes and those subject to delinquency or status offense proceedings, by:

(a)       recognizing the impact that current or prior exposure to violence and trauma has on physical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral development and well-being;

(b)       responding to child traumatic stress through legal representation that reflects awareness of trauma‚Äôs adverse impacts on children and youth who have contact with the legal system; and

(c)       acting in collaboration with other professionals involved with the child or youth to facilitate and support recovery and resiliency of the child and family.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, tribal and territorial bar associations, working with judges, lawyers, and other professionals with subject matter expertise in trauma-informed systems of care, to develop and implement training programs for judges, child welfare attorneys, prosecutors, and defense counsel that will enable them to integrate trauma knowledge into daily legal practice and integrate and sustain trauma awareness, knowledge, and skills in practice and policies.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages court systems, lawyers, law schools, and bar associations to promote awareness of secondary trauma among legal professionals working with traumatized children and youth and to develop positive strategies for addressing secondary trauma among those involved with children and youth in the justice system.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages, supports, and is committed to working with the U.S. Department of Justice, state and local prosecutors, state and local bar associations, legal services organizations, law schools, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, public defender offices and court-appointed legal counsel, and other legal assistance providers and entities that promote improvements in juvenile justice to develop training that educates the legal profession on the issues and recommendations contained in the Defending Childhood report, and to help promote the practices proposed in the report.