YWCA believes that all trauma survivors should receive access to supportive services to help them heal and thrive. Unfortunately, many girls of color who experience trauma are criminalized instead of being given appropriate community-based support.
What challenges do girls of color face after experiencing trauma?
Survivor behaviors are coping mechanisms that help survivors deal with trauma and keep themselves safe from further danger. These types of trauma responses are often used by girls and young women and include behaviors like running away, aggressiveness, and truancy. For girls of color, these natural responses are too often criminalized. This criminalization is a driving force behind the overrepresentation of girls of color in the school discipline and juvenile justice systems. The underlying gendered bias that all girls experience is exacerbated for girls of color, who also experience intersectional biases related to racial stereotypes and cultural norms about appropriate feminine behavior.
YWCA USA supports efforts to ensure that girls of color who have experienced trauma have improved access to community resources to address that trauma, including in the health, education, and juvenile justice systems. To this end, YWCA supports federal, state, and local legislation and policies that expand the availability of community and school-based services. YWCA also supports efforts to ensure that health, educational, and juvenile justice system staff who interact with youth receive training on and utilize trauma-informed practices that enable trauma survivors to heal and thrive.