Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law
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The Trauma-Informed Court: Trauma Education for the Bench, Administrators, and Counsel

The Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke Law is partnering with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to create and administer an educational program for state court judges and other court administrators on the effects of juvenile trauma. The first training program is expected to begin in 2021.

The curriculum will help judges, court officers, and court administrators understand the nature of juvenile trauma, the origin and lasting effects of trauma and toxic stress, intergenerational trauma, the connection between trauma and addiction, approaches to mitigating stress, and establishing coping strategies, and other essential knowledge. The course will also offer concrete practices judges might adopt in order to better interact with affected parties, particularly juveniles, read and understand trauma assessments, and craft trauma-informed orders.

The project provides an opportunity for collaboration between the judicial branch and experts at Duke in law, public policy, and medicine who study the science of trauma and its effects on the body and mind, as well as on society and criminality more broadly. Judges will learn from leaders in these fields, but also will have the chance to share with academics their own observations and data needs, creating a feedback loop that will form the basis of future research projects and improved curriculum for the future.

The program is funded in part by a  grant from the Winer Family Foundation, which takes as its mission to ensure that all families with children aged prenatal to five are healthy, educated, and empowered.

We continue to seek additional sponsors for this important work. For more information, to get involved, or to offer financial support, please contact Amelia Ashton Thorn, assistant director of special projects, at amelia.thorn@law.duke.edu.