Trauma-informed courts can help the vulnerable

AcourtroomWritten by: Alicia Summers, Ph.D., National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

The parens patriae doctrine grants power to the state to intervene and protect children and other vulnerable individuals who are not able to protect themselves. In effect, the state serves as a “parent” to the person to ensure their needs are met.  With our ever-increasing understanding of adolescent brain development, neuroscience, psychology, and human development generally, there is a growing recognition that these needs are more complex than the basics of food, shelter, and safety. Children experiencing adversity often require assistance to meet developmental needs and tasks, with a focus on promoting resilience and well-being so that they have the same opportunities for positive outcomes as youth who have not been involved with the court system.

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