On November 25, 2022, INL's Caribbean Anti-Crime Grant, implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), convened its 27th virtual Judicial KIT. The program provided an overview of trauma and brain development in adolescents and highlighted best practices in cases involving youth victims, witnesses and defendants.
Approximately 106 judges, magistrates and attorneys attended the KIT session from 9 countries: Antigua, Anguilla, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. Attendees included Chief Justices, Judges, Masters, Magistrates, Attorneys, and Court Administrators. The key speaker was President, Chief Executive Officer, and Clinical Therapist & Traumatologist of The Center for Human Development Limited, Hanif E. A. Benjamin.
The court system can uniquely impact the lives of youth and children in the adjudication of family or criminal cases. Adjudication of cases involving children and adolescents should weigh the impact of traumatic experiences which influence decision making, identity, interests, ethics, and self-direction.
Key areas emphasized in the program include guidelines on diagnosing and differentiating different types of trauma, the impact of childhood trauma on development and fostering positive youth development through socio-ecological frameworks that prioritize strengths, engagement, and socialization. In the KIT survey, most participants agreed that the consequences of traumatic events are highly likely to derail a child’s healthy biological, emotional and social development.
Overall, Mr. Benjamin, a highly experienced therapist & traumatologist, highlighted ways to incorporate positive youth development concepts in justice interventions, such as skill-building, creating a support network, and empowering youth to see their potential. The presenter also underlined the need to practice trauma-informed care when assessing cases, which consists of realizing the impact of trauma, recognizing symptoms, and responding by integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.
Judicial KIT speaker Mr. Benjamin presenting on The Ecological Model of Development
Judicial KIT Speaker Mr. Benjamin presenting on Positive Youth Justice