The Urban Review

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 582–598 | Cite as

Examining Trauma-Informed Teaching and the Trauma Symptomatology of Court-Involved Girls

  • Shantel D. CrosbyEmail author
  • Angelique Day
  • Beverly A. Baroni
  • Cheryl Somers


Young women living in urban contexts, particularly those with involvement in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, experience significant barriers to academic well-being as a result of childhood trauma. To date, little research has been done to evaluate evidence-based, trauma-informed educational interventions to improve outcomes among these students. This study used survey data from a multi-year trauma-informed teaching intervention to quantitatively measure the well-being of trauma-exposed girls in an urban, trauma-informed school setting. The study explored whether girls at a trauma-informed school demonstrated significant changes in trauma symptomatology and whether these changes varied by race/ethnicity. As hypothesized, participants experienced a statistically significant decrease in trauma symptoms over the observation period. However, there were no significant differences in trauma symptom change based on race/ethnicity. Policy and practice implications are discussed.


Trauma-informed teaching Childhood trauma Trauma symptoms School-to-prison pipeline 



  1. American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma in Children and Adolescents. (2008). Children and trauma: Update for mental health professionals. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  2. Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C., Perry, B. D., et al. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood: A convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256(3), 174–186. Scholar
  3. Anderson, E. (1994). The code of the streets. The Atlantic Monthly, 273(5), 80–94.Google Scholar
  4. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kid Count Data Center. (2014). Child population by race. Retrieved from,868,867,133,38/66,67,68,69,70,71,12,72/423,424. Accessed 12 June 2018.
  5. Ayres, A. J. (2005). Sensory integration and the child: Understanding hidden sensory challenges. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  6. Baroni, B., Day, A., Somers, C., Crosby, S., & Pennefather, M. (2016). The adoption of the Monarch Room as an alternative to suspension and expulsion in addressing school discipline issues among court-involved youth. Urban Education. Scholar
  7. Baynes-Dunning, K., & Worthington, K. (2013). Responding to the needs of girls in foster care. Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, 20(2), 321–349.Google Scholar
  8. Bellair, P. E., & McNulty, T. L. (2005). Beyond the bell curve: Community disadvantage and the explanation of black-white differences in adolescent violence. Criminology, 43(4), 1135–1168. Scholar
  9. Berger, L. M., Bruch, S. K., Johnson, E. I., James, S., & Rubin, D. (2009). Estimating the “impact” of out-of-home placement on child well-being: Approaching the problem of selection bias. Child Development, 80(6), 1856–1876. Scholar
  10. Black, P. J., Woodworth, M., Tremblay, M., & Carpenter, T. (2012). A review of trauma-informed treatment for adolescents. Canadian Psychology, 53(3), 192–203. Scholar
  11. Booth, P., & Jemberg, A. (1998). Theraplay. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss. Volume 1: Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Bowlby, J. (1979). The making and breaking of affectional bonds. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss. Volume 3: Loss, sadness, and depression. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Brandt, D. (2006). Delinquency, development, and social policy. New Haven: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Buffington, K., Dierkhising, C. B., & Marsh, S. C. (2010). Ten things every juvenile court judge should know about trauma and delinquency. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 61(3), 13–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burley, M. (2010). High school graduation and dropout trends for Washington state foster youth (2005–2009), No. 10-10-3901. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.Google Scholar
  19. Chesney-Lind, M., & Shelden, R. G. (2013). Girls, delinquency, and juvenile justice. Malden, MA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Cole, S. F., O’Brien, J. G., Gadd, M. G., Ristuccia, J., Wallace, D. L., & Gregory, M. (2005). Helping traumatized children learn. Boston, Massachusetts: Advocates for Children.Google Scholar
  21. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2016). Federal legislation to promote social and emotional learning (Web page). Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  22. Cook, A., Spinazzola, J., Ford, J., Lanktree, C., Blaustein, M., Cloitre, M., et al. (2005). Complex trauma in children and adolescents. Psychiatric Annals, 35(5), 390–398. Scholar
  23. Council on Social Work Education. (2012). Advanced social work practice in trauma. Alexandria, VA: CSWE.Google Scholar
  24. Cox, C. C., Visker, J. D., & Hartman, A. (2011). Educational faculty perceptions of the learning climate in a juvenile justice residential facility. Current Issues in Education, 14(2), 1–16.Google Scholar
  25. Crosby, S. (2016). Trauma-informed approaches to juvenile justice: A critical race perspective. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 67(1), 5–18. Scholar
  26. Crosby, S., Day, A., Baroni, B., & Somers, C. (2015). School staff perspectives on the challenges and solutions to working with court-involved students. Journal of School Health, 85(6), 347–354. Scholar
  27. Crosby, S. D., Day, A., Somers, C., & Baroni, B. (2018). Avoiding school suspension: Assessment of a trauma-informed intervention with court-involved, female students. Preventing School Failure, 62(3), 229–237. Scholar
  28. Crosby, S. D., Day, A., Somers, C., Baroni, B., Patterson, D., Jones, K., & Hong, J. S. Exploring the benefits of trauma-informed teaching through the voices of female youth. Education and Urban Society. Unpublished work.Google Scholar
  29. Data Driven Detroit. (2013). Community data resources: Community profiles [Data file]. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  30. Day, A., Somers, C., Baroni, B., West, S., Sanders, L., & Peterson, C. (2015). Evaluation of a trauma-informed school intervention with girls in a residential facility school: Student perceptions of school environment. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 24(7), 1086–1105. Scholar
  31. Dorman, C., Lindsey, N. L., Woodin, M., Cohen, R. L., Schweitzer, J. A., & Tona, J. T. (2009). Using sensory tools for teens with behavioral and emotional problems. Bethesda, MD: The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc.Google Scholar
  32. Ford, J. D., Chapman, J., Connor, D. F., & Cruise, K. R. (2012). Complex trauma and aggression in secure juvenile justice settings. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39, 694–724. Scholar
  33. Ford, J. D., Hartman, J. K., Hawke, J., & Chapman, J. C. (2008). Traumatic victimization posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse risk among juvenile justice-involved youths. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 1, 75–92. Scholar
  34. Grande, T. L., Hallman, J. M., Underwood, L. A., Warren, K. M., & Rehfuss, M. (2012). Treating detained juveniles: Measuring mental health traits and gender differences. Review of European Studies, 4(5), 14–23. Scholar
  35. Greene, R., & Ablon, S. (2006). Treating explosive kids: The collaborative problem-solving approach. New York, NY: Gilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Greenwald, R., & Rubin, A. (1999). Assessment of posttraumatic symptoms in children: Development and preliminary validation of parent and child scales. Research on Social Work Practice, 9, 61–75. Scholar
  37. Greeson, K. P., Briggs, E. C., Kisiel, C. L., Layne, C. M., Ake, G. S., Ko, S. J., et al. (2011). Complex trauma and mental health in children and adolescents placed in foster care: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Child Welfare, 90(6), 91–108.Google Scholar
  38. Griffin, G. (2011). Public systems: Responding to students affected by trauma [PDF Document Lecture Notes]. Child and Family Policy Forum. University of Chicago. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  39. Herz, D., Lee, P., Lutz, L., Stewart, M., Tuell, J., & Wiig, J. (2012). Addressing the needs of multisystem youth: Strengthening the connection between child welfare and juvenile justice. Washington D.C.: Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  40. Ko, S. J., Ford, J. D., Kassam-Adams, N., Berkowitz, S. J., Wilson, C., Wong, M., et al. (2008). Creating trauma-informed systems: Child welfare, education, first responders, health care, juvenile justice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(4), 396–404. Scholar
  41. Lawrence, R., & Hesse, M. (2010). Juvenile justice: The essentials. Los Angeles: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Lepore, S. J., & Kliewer, W. (2013). Violence exposure, sleep disturbance, and poor academic performance in middle school. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(8), 1179–1189. Scholar
  43. Luke, N., & Coyne, S. M. (2008). Fostering self-esteem: Exploring adult recollections on the influence of foster parents. Child and Family Social Work, 13, 402–410. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Macomber, J. (2009). Intentions and results: A look back at the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  45. Manning, E. (2008). Attachment representations and life functioning of young adults “aging out” of foster care: Identifying factors involved in risk and resilience. New York: New School University.Google Scholar
  46. McNulty, T. L., & Bellair, P. E. (2003). Explaining racial and ethnic differences in adolescent violence: Structural disadvantage, family well-being, and social capital. Justice Quarterly, 20(1), 1–31. Scholar
  47. Moore, K., Marlene, M., & Holland, R. (1997). A new perspective on youth care programs: Using attachment theory to guide interventions for troubled youth. Residential Treatment For Children and Youth, 15(3), 1–24. Scholar
  48. National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma Task Force. (2012). The 12 core concepts: Concepts for understanding traumatic stress responses in children and families. Los Angeles, CA, & Durham, NC. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  49. Neely-Barnes, S., & Whitted, K. (2011). Examining the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 34(2), 206–238.Google Scholar
  50. Oehlberg, B. (2008). Why schools need to be trauma-informed. Trauma and Loss: Research and Interventions, 8(2), 1–4.Google Scholar
  51. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2015). Statistical briefing book. [Data file]. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  52. Pasko, L. (2010). Setting the record “straight”: Girls, sexuality, and the juvenile correctional system. Social Justice, 37(1), 7–26.Google Scholar
  53. Pecora, P. J., Kessler, R. C., Williams, J., O’Brien, K., Downs, A. C., English, D., et al. (2005). Improving family foster care: Findings from the northwest foster care alumni study. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.Google Scholar
  54. Penner, C., & Wallin, D. (2012). School attachment theory and restitution processes: Promoting positive behaviors in middle years schools. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 137, 1–36.Google Scholar
  55. Postlethwait, A. W., Barth, R. P., & Guo, S. (2010). Gender variation in delinquent behavior changes of child welfare-involved youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 318–324. Scholar
  56. Richardson, M. M., Coryn, C. L. S., Henry, J., Black-Pond, C., & Unrau, Y. (2012). Development and evaluation of the trauma-informed system change instrument: factorial validity and implications for use. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29(3), 167–184. Scholar
  57. Riebschleger, J., Day, A., & Damashek, A. (2015). FC youth share stories of trauma before, during, and after placement: Youth voices for building trauma-informed systems of care. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 24(3), 339–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rumberger, R. W., & Larson, K. A. (1998). Student mobility and the increased risk of high school dropout. American Journal of Education, 107(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rushton, A., Mayes, D., Dance, C., & Quinton, D. (2003). Parenting late-placed children: The development of new relationships and the challenge of behavioural problems. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 389–400. Scholar
  60. Ryan, B., Bashant, C., & Brooks, D. (2006). Protecting and supporting children in the child welfare system and the juvenile court. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 57(1), 61–69. Scholar
  61. Salazar, A. M., Keller, T. E., Gowen, L. K., & Courtney, M. E. (2012). Trauma exposure and PTSD among older adolescents in foster care. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(4), 545–551. Scholar
  62. Sedlak, A. J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Petta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., & Li, S. (2010). Fourth national incidence study of child abuse and neglect (NIS-4): Report to congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  63. Sherman, F. T. & Balck, A. (2015). Gender injustice: System-level juvenile justice reforms for girls. Online. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  64. Shonk, S. M., & Cicchetti, D. (2001). Maltreatment, competency deficits, and risk for academic and behavioral maladjustment. Developmental Psychology, 37(1), 3–17. Scholar
  65. Sickmund, M., Sladky, T. J., Kang, W., & Puzzanchera, C. (2011). Easy access to the census of juveniles in residential placement. Online. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  66. Sickmund, M., Sladky, T. J., Kang, W., & Puzzanchera, C. (2013). Easy access to the census of juveniles in residential placement. Online. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  67. Smithgall, C., Cusick, G., & Griffin, G. (2013). Responding to students affected by trauma: Collaboration across public systems. Family Court Review, 51, 401–408. Scholar
  68. Smithgall, C., Gladden, R. M., Howard, E., Goerge, R., & Courtney, M. (2004). Educational experiences of children in out-of-home care. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  69. South, S. J., Haynie, D. L., & Bose, S. (2007). Student mobility and school dropout. Social Science Research, 36(1), 68–94. Scholar
  70. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). SAMHSA trauma definition. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  71. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. (2015). Trauma-informed approach. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  72. United States Congress. (2017). H.R. 1757/S. 774 the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2017 (Web page). Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  73. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. (2013). Data brief 2013-1: Recent demographic trends in foster care. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  74. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. (2016). Adoption and foster care analysis and reporting system. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  75. Unrau, Y. A., Seita, J. R., & Putney, K. S. (2008). Former foster youth remember multiple placement moves: A journey of loss and hope. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1256–1266. Scholar
  76. Voisin, D. R., Neilands, T. B., & Hunnicutt, S. (2011). Mechanisms linking violence exposure and school engagement among African American adolescents: Examining the roles of psychological problem behaviors and gender. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1), 61–71. Scholar
  77. Wasserman, G. A., & McReynolds, L. S. (2011). Contributors to traumatic exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder in juvenile justice youths. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(4), 422–429. Scholar
  78. Watson, L., & Edelman, P. (2012). Improving the juvenile justice system for girls: Lessons from the states. Washington DC: Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy. Retrieved from Accessed 12 June 2018.
  79. Wayne County Department of Children and Family Services. (2011). Juvenile justice services statistical report through FY 2011. Detroit, MI: Juvenile Services Division.Google Scholar
  80. Wolpow, R., Johnson, M. M., Hertel, R., & Kincaid, S. O. (2009). The heart of learning and teaching: Compassion, resiliency, and academic success. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Compassionate Schools.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shantel D. Crosby
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angelique Day
    • 2
  • Beverly A. Baroni
    • 3
  • Cheryl Somers
    • 4
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Clara B. Ford AcademyDearborn HeightsUSA
  4. 4.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

Personalised recommendations