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TIS Principle of the Month: Understanding Trauma and Stress

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Without understanding trauma, we are more likely to adopt behaviors and beliefs that are negative and unhealthy. Learn more

Without understanding trauma, we are more likely to adopt behaviors and beliefs that are negative and unhealthy. However, when we understand trauma and stress we can act compassionately and take well-informed steps toward wellness.

  1. Trauma – We understand that trauma is common, but experienced uniquely due to its many variations in form and impact.
  2. Stress – We understand that optimal levels of positive stress can be healthy, but that chronic or extreme stress has damaging effects.
  3. Reactions – We understand that many trauma reactions are adaptive, but that some resulting behaviors and beliefs may impede recovery and wellness.
  4. Recovery – We understand that trauma can be overcome effectively through accessible treatments, skills, relationships, and personal practices.

Understanding and recognizing the impact of trauma exposure within the juvenile justice system is critical because so frequently it is a young person’s behavior — which are normal reactions to unresolved trauma — that ensnares young people in the system; and once youth are system-involved, it is paramount that every effort is made to prevent further harm and retraumatization, while creating opportunities for recover and healing.

–Jennifer Lynn-Whaley, Youth Justice Institute, Contra Costa County