How Complex Developmental Trauma, Residential Out-of-Home Care and Contact with the Justice System Intersect

Jenna Bollinger, Stephanie Scott-Smith, Philip Mendes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Complex developmental trauma impacts on neurobiological development through the creation of a frightening and unpredictable environment in which the brain develops. This early experience results in an under-developed limbic system and pre-frontal cortex. For some children and young people, their experiences of early trauma lead them into the residential Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) system. Neurodevelopmental delays that occur as a result of early trauma and abuse often become particularly pronounced during adolescence, including limited impulse control, poor emotional regulation and attachment impairments. These same delays contribute to offending behaviour and subsequent contact with the justice system. Complex developmental trauma has serious repercussions both for the individual and the society in which he or she lives. These repercussions may take the form of offending behaviour and contact with the justice system, drug and alcohol abuse, and continuing cycles of abuse and violence within families or victimisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-112
Number of pages5
JournalChildren Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • attachment
  • brain development
  • criminal justice system
  • out-of-home care
  • residential care
  • trauma

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