NCTSN Position Statements

NCTSN position statements are developed collaboratively by members of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in response to important issues in the field, and they are approved by the NCTSN Steering Committee.

Racial Injustice and Trauma: African Americans in the U.S.

Trauma-informed practice and culturally responsive care are core values of the NCTSN. These compel us to acknowledge historical events, biases, and population demographics in understanding health disparities and disproportionality. As such, historical trauma is recognized and understood as a significant part of the trauma history for a child, a family, and a culture. The NCTSN affirms the importance of addressing the impact of historical trauma, including slavery, in the lives of African Americans in the U.S. Current-day racial injustice in law enforcement, prisons, and other institutions are part of the history of oppression and racism that can affect the trauma experience, treatment, and recovery of African Americans. 

In this regard, the NCTSN has developed a position statement, titled “Racial Injustice and Trauma: African Americans in the U.S.” as a call to action for the Network to collectively integrate specific activities within the work of the NCTSN: 1) Increase knowledge about the impact of race-based traumatic stress that affects  many African American children, their families, and the communities in which they live;  2) In collaboration with experts in historical trauma related to African American history, develop and disseminate resources that child trauma professionals can use to identify, assess, and address  historical trauma and racism in the context of high quality, trauma-informed, culturally responsive care; and 3) Become a national leader in raising awareness about historical trauma related to African Americans, the impact of current-day racial injustice, and the implication of such history and experiences on trauma-informed health and mental health care.
Prerequisite Clinical Competencles for Implementing Effective, Trauma-informed Intervention
Since the inception of the NCTSN, many evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for children and families exposed to traumatic life events have been developed and refined. This is a remarkable achievement in the field and has resulted in large numbers of children and their families receiving proven treatments that have helped them to move forward in their recovery. These EBTs should be implemented by well-trained clinicians who have a solid background in clinical assessment, case conceptualization, and other skill sets that increase the probability that these treatments are delivered with the highest levels of fidelity, competence, and overall quality.
In this regard, the NCTSN has developed a position statement entitled, “Prerequisite Clinical Competencies for Implementing Effective, Trauma-informed Intervention.” This position statement can be used to guide agency leaders, clinicians, trainers, and others in optimizing service provision to children and families affected by trauma by prompting reflection on the basic clinical skills needed prior to receiving training in or implementing an EBT. This position statement makes clear what basic, prerequisite competencies are required for the implementation of any EBT, both within and outside of the NCTSN.