Trauma Screening at Juvenile Probation Intake With the Child Trauma Screen (CTS): Exploring Demographic Differences and Screening Decisions

Angela Cristine Glover, Fordham University


High prevalence of traumatic event exposure (TEE) among adolescents with justice system involvement (AJSI) justifies a movement toward trauma-informed care (TIC) in juvenile justice settings (Abram et al., 2004; Maschi et al., 2012; NCTSN, 2015; SAMHSA, 2014). One important component of TIC in these settings is universal trauma screening (Branson et al., 2017; NCMHJJ & TAC, 2016; Williams, 2007). Nevertheless, research establishing validity of cut score-based trauma screening tools with AJSI is limited. The Child Trauma Screen (CTS) was developed for child-serving settings and has a validated cut score (Lang & Connell, 2017; Lang & Connell, 2018; Lang et al., 2021). However, it has not been tested with AJSI or subjected to a focused assessment of screening results based on demographic characteristics. The current study examined CTS screening results from a group of adolescents on probation in Pennsylvania, investigating differences based on demographic characteristics including gender, race, and ethnicity.CTS results (Exposure total, Reactions total, Reactions present, proportion endorsing individual items, proportion screened in at cut score of 6) from a sample of 1,186 adolescents who completed the screen during a juvenile probation intake were examined. Gender comparisons including the entire sample and race/ethnicity comparisons within gender were conducted using independent samples t-tests and chi-square tests. Finally, several two-way ANVOAs estimated main and interaction effects of lifetime trauma, race, and ethnicity on trauma reactions for boys and girls.Unsurprisingly, girls endorsed more TEEs, more symptomology, and screened positive more often than boys. Less expected, White girls screened positive more often than Black/Multiracial girls, which was also reflected in more reported symptomology. No other differences in overall screening rates based on race or ethnicity were found, although Black/Multiracial boys reported more TEEs than White boys. Differences based on ethnicity were minimal, and only at the item level. Finally, for both genders symptom severity increased as lifetime trauma increased but there was no main effect of race or ethnicity on Reactions total, and neither race nor ethnicity significantly interacted with the effect of lifetime trauma. Results suggest that the CTS adequately captures trauma exposure and reactions among AJSI, and is appropriate as an initial trauma screen in juvenile justice settings. Further, results support the use of a cut score of 6 to identify those at risk for PTSD regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Mental health|Gender studies|Biostatistics

Recommended Citation

Glover, Angela Cristine, "Trauma Screening at Juvenile Probation Intake With the Child Trauma Screen (CTS): Exploring Demographic Differences and Screening Decisions" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30635745.