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The Takeoff of Trauma

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

Ulysse Abbate, BA Hons Philosophy, Politics, Economics student discusses trauma, criminalisation and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in his blog as part of our #UoNinterntakeover series.


Research has shown that trauma has been experienced by many people (almost two-thirds of adults have claimed to experienced trauma in their childhood)[1]. We cannot ignore trauma under the guise that it only occurs in a minority of cases. We must acknowledge and appropriately deal with the existence of trauma in the Youth Justice System.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, including trauma, have a direct impact on young people’s social skills, and their likelihood to get involved in criminal activities. Children raised in homes and communities where trauma pervades may not know how to confront others in nonviolent ways[2].

Dame Glenys, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, stated that most young people who commit serious crimes have had disturbing and traumatic experiences themselves, during childhood[3], further highlighting the urgent need for trauma-informed practices.

What sets 3Pillars apart

3Pillars Project exists to improve the lives of young people at risk of committing crime and those in-custody, by providing them with effective support and mentoring, supporting them to secure positive futures. We provide vulnerable young people with the tools to overcome significant challenges and successfully reintegrate into the community.

The 3Pillars Project works to support, not punish, people in the Youth Justice System. Supporting youth through proven, safe practices:

  • Decreases the chance of them committing further crimes

  • Protects citizens

  • Allows young people to improve their lives in a legal, constructive way

  • Saves money that would be spent on incarceration.

But who would believe a biased intern volunteering with the 3Pillars Project… wouldn’t it be far more reliable if other Youth Justice Systems throughout Europe also shared these views and demonstrated proven benefits of child support?

In Europe, the Youth Justice System of nations vary in many ways, including age of criminal responsibility (10yrs in the UK), how much money is invested, and if child support agencies have greater influence than policing agencies. I have listed the top 5 places in Europe with the least number of youth prisoners[4], along with a few facts about their Youth Justice Systems. Notice anything?

If you haven’t seen it already, each of these countries’ Youth Justice Systems place an emphasis on supporting children, not criminalising them. A child-centred approach, where needs are properly evaluated and consent is received, plays a fundamental part of all of these systems, which each lead to low levels of juvenile incarceration.

An expensive (and resolvable) dilemma[10]

The Ministry of Justice concluded in 2016 that the total price of YOIs in the UK was £158,696,635 for the year (£68,868 per young person). It is also worth mentioning that the cost of young males between the ages of 15-17 is the highest cost for all demographic categories recorded by the MoJ (standing at £85,975 per year to imprison a male between the age of 15-17, on average). As previously stated, with the promotion of support systems and educational facilities, reoffending rates for young children can be reduced significantly, allowing the MoJ to save more money per prisoner than elsewhere (not that saving money is our priority).

For instance, while it costs on average £85,975 to imprison a 15–17-year-old male for a year, it would cost £85,530 on average to imprison three category C adult males for a year.

Rugby reducing roughness:

Here at 3Pillars Project, we believe rugby is a great way to constructively let out stress in non-violent ways. From a UNICEF report we highlighted the ways in which the values of rugby support our work:


Many young people place high importance on the social networks and friendships they develop through sport. Children are much more likely to tell their peers than anyone else about violence they have experienced, and to use each other as sources of information and support.


Learning about the Convention on the Rights of the Child needs to be integrated into initial and in-service training for all those working with and for children. Child athletes should therefore participate in this process and also learn to respect each other’s rights.


Without the enjoyment factor there would be no engagement with young people, this has to be at the core


Good coaches are vital role models in children’s sport, and they generally provide children with skilled instruction in a safe and non-threatening environment


Good pedagogic practices in physical education can also help prevent violence by promoting confidence, sensitivity to others and self-awareness in children

Our similarities with the UN don’t end there!

The recently adopted United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development echo many of the values we hold here at the 3Pillars Project. For instance:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] LUXEMBOURG - EUROPEAN › fileDownload [9] [10]


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