Healing the Hurt: Trauma-Informed Approaches to the Health of Boys and Young Men of Color

by Ann Wilson; John Rich; Linda Rich; Sandra Bloom; Solomon Evans; Theodore Corbin

Oct 1, 2009

From discrimination and poverty to alcoholism and assault, trauma in its varied forms plays a major part in the lives of Latino and African-American boys and young men. This paper outlines the ways in which violence prevention, family support, health care, foster care, and juvenile justice can incorporate a trauma-informed approach to improve the physical and mental health of young men and boys.
  • Chronic trauma and stress have adverse effects on neurodevelopment and psychosocial development, particularly among adolescents.
  • In California, the odds of African-American youth having had someone close to them murdered are 7.8 times higher than the odds for white youth.
  • Emergency room and hospital-based interventions have the potential to interrupt the cycle of violence, but currently these places tend to compound traumatic experiences instead.
  • Most child welfare and foster care agencies do not gather in-depth information about trauma history of the children they support. Foster care alumni experience post-traumatic stress disorder at a rate double that of U.S. war veterans.
  • The Sanctuary Model calls for organizational restructuring of institutions from a trauma-informed view to promote a safe, community environment for healing and growth. Attitudes and communication strategies of staff are crucial to this endeavor.