Using ACEs and TBRI to Implement a Trauma-Informed Courtroom

By Mark Harris, Josephine C. Vanderhorst and Kellie J. Johnson

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are defined in Louisiana law (R.S. 17:437.2) as “all types of abuse, neglect and other types of traumatic childhood experiences linked to lifelong health and social problems including physical, sexual and emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; domestic violence; divorce
or separation of a parent or caregiver; substance abuse by a household member; mental illness of a household member; and incarceration of a household member.” In Louisiana, there are a plethora of
additional traumatic experiences impacting families — natural disasters (hurricanes, floods and tornadoes), high crime rates, gun violence, unexpected death of family members and poverty.

In essence, the ACEs study conducted by California’s Kaiser-Permanente, in collaboration with the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for the first time linked certain traumatic childhood experiences with an elevated risk of serious medical and mental health issues later in life. According to the CDC:
► one in six adults experienced four or more types of ACEs;
► at least five of the top 10 leading causes of death are associated with ACEs; and
► preventing ACEs could reduce the number of adults with depression by 44%

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Louisiana Bar Journal August / September 2022

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