Traumatic Brain Injury and Justice-Involved Youth

Assessment and Intervention

Authored by: Christopher A. Veeh , Tanya Renn

Routledge International Handbook of Delinquency and Health

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367256920
eBook ISBN: 9780429289194
Adobe ISBN:


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Each year traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in approximately 640,000 emergency department visits by children and adolescents. The incidence of TBI is not randomly distributed and it disproportionately impacts youth already at high risk for involvement in the criminal justice system. TBI is associated with a range of deleterious outcomes, including: violence, depression, suicide, alcohol and drug use, and a variety of cognitive deficits that decrease the ability to regulate behavior and emotion. Given the disproportionately higher rates of TBI in justice-involved youth, it is imperative that evidence-based assessment tools and interventions be adopted throughout the criminal justice system. This chapter highlights the Ohio State University TBI Identification Method as an assessment tool that provides a structured and brief method to systematically assess a youth’s history of TBI. Intervention approaches are currently lacking that target mechanisms to ameliorate the effects of TBI. One promising approach are interventions based on high-quality cognitive-behavioral therapy focused on a repertoire of active coping strategies to deal with difficult and stressful situations. The wide adoption of evidence-based assessment and intervention for TBI in justice-involved youth is vital to ensure fewer youth are needlessly punished for behaviors that emerged because of trauma to the brain.

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