Adverse childhood experiences and trauma among young people in the youth justice system

Child sitting by themselves in shadows

This study examines the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a representative sample of young people under youth justice supervision in South Australia. The analysis showed that not only was the prevalence of ACEs particularly high in this population (89% experienced a combination of maltreatment and household dysfunction), but so too were trauma symptomatology, substance use, and internalising and externalising behaviours (with more than two-thirds of young people scoring in the clinical ranges on each of these measures). When viewed collectively, the data provide a foundation for understanding and responding to the vulnerabilities of young people in the youth justice system. They suggest that developmentally focused and trauma‑informed approaches may offer the greatest promise in assisting young people and keeping the community safe from crime.


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