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Girls Speak Out On Connecticut's Juvenile Justice System

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Girls who have been involved with Connecticut’s juvenile justice system are twice more likely than boys to have symptoms of PTSD. That’s according to research by Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance presented at a forum in Hartford on Wednesday. Those same girls also say they do not feel heard or included in decisions about their lives.

Abby Anderson, the executive director at CCJA, a statewide public policy advocacy organization that wants to end the criminalization of children, says a much smaller number of girls get involved with the justice system and that trauma may be a big reason that they end up in court.

“Yeah, I want kids who have experienced trauma who also need to be in the juvenile justice system to get the care they need, but why in god’s name are we waiting until these kids get arrested for them to have access to trauma services?”

Anderson says she wants to form a girls’ council to help advise decision makers.

“We need to do more listening, and we need to make sure that the girls and young women understood that they are heard even if their request or concerns aren’t, things that we can meet or give them in the way that they want them to be met.”

Anderson says although a much smaller number of girls get involved with the juvenile justice system than boys, they are twice as likely to have symptoms of PTSD.

Out of about 4,000 girls who went to court last year, more than half of them were sent for minor offenses. Most of them were sent for family-related issues like disruptive or defiant behavior or running away.

Anderson says one girl that was interviewed for this forum had gone through 11 different therapists in her time with the juvenile justice system. She says girls want to have more say in finding therapists that they can relate to and trust.