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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

Youth justice professionals to be trained in childhood trauma

A new programme of activities to explore whether trauma-informed practice is effective at keeping children safe from violence has been launched by the Youth Endowment Fund and the Home Office.

Youth justice professionals, social workers, teachers and early-help practitioners will be trained and supported to recognise and respond appropriately to children displaying signs of trauma as part of the programme funded by £5.8m investment.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Tackling serious violence is a key priority for this government, and we must do everything we can to protect young people from harm and criminality.

“This research will be vital to gaining a better understanding of the root causes of youth violence, and will be key to helping us and the YEF support children in managing their trauma and avoiding a life of violent criminality,” he added.

Research has shown that children who repeatedly experience trauma – often known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – are more likely to become involved in crime and violence. ACEs can include mental and physical abuse, domestic violence or substance misuse in the household.

The aim of the initiative is to test whether training staff to in trauma awareness can effectively reduce the harmful effects of adverse childhood experiences. Specifically, preventing behaviours that are associated with crime and violence, such as offending and behaviours which lead to exclusion from school.

Staff working with children and young people will be trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of childhood trauma and they will gain an understanding of how trauma can influence young people’s behaviours and learn how to adapt their support accordingly.

More than 200,000 children will be reached across four large scale organisations in England and Wales to ascertain the value of the trauma training.

Organisational policies, procedures and practices will also be adapted to ensure that all staff can respond effectively to build trusted relationships and avoid re-traumatisation for children, as well as for the staff themselves.

The Home Office is providing £4m of funding while the additional £1.8m is being pledged from the YEF and will support the following organisations throughout the initiative:

  • Bridgend County Borough Council - where youth justice, edge of care, youth development and early help services practitioners will receive training and support to apply a ‘Trauma Recovery Model’ framework with the young people they are working with.

  • Knowledge Change Action Ltd and Warren Larkin Associates - where secondary school staff and leadership teams will be trained and supported to have a better understanding of trauma and attachment needs, including their own.

  • National Children's Bureau - Social work teams, working with young people in foster care and their foster carers, will be trained to understand and use trauma-informed practices.

  • Trauma-Informed Schools UK - secondary school staff will be supported to create a trauma-informed, mentally healthy school community that fosters psychological safety.

Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “Training teachers, social workers, youth justice and early-help practitioners to identify signs of trauma could help more children to access the right support early and prevent problems later in life. The problem is that we lack proper evidence on whether this sort of training actually makes a real difference or not.

“While the use of trauma-informed training has grown rapidly in recent years, the same can’t be said for the number of evaluations or robust studies into the practice. This funding will make great strides in changing that," he concluded.


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