Assisting Victims of Trauma in the Classroom and in the Field of Law Enforcement

With an academic background in sociology and criminal justice, Judy Cruz-Ransom has been helping survivors of trauma for more than 28 years. Starting as an adjunct instructor in 2009 and now serving as a visiting lecturer at the College, Judy teaches her Criminal Justice students about trauma and its effects, and what resources are available for assistance, to best prepare them for successful careers.

This fall, all Criminal Justice students will be required to take a new course she has created, Victimology and Trauma. Cruz-Ransom credits the College’s Diversity Fellowship program with helping her develop the new offering and look more broadly at enhancing learning for better student outcomes. She brings the insight gained from years of experience in various criminal justice entities, where she directly advocated for victims of crime, and from her full-time job—the assistant director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia—into the classroom and to the College community.

“Trauma serves as a roadblock to learning. Some individuals don’t even recognize they are traumatized or are victims,” said Cruz-Ransom.

She emphasized that with the prevalence of trauma, faculty and staff could be suffering as well.

“We all could be dealing with trauma. I educate students and others about resources, and you have to be sensitive with class assignments. You have to understand how this impacts everyone,” she said.

During the College’s Law and Society Week, Cruz-Ransom will facilitate two sessions on Feb. 24: one on Victimization and Trauma, with co-presenter and adjunct faculty member Leslie Davila, about the different types of victimization and best practices for trauma-informed classrooms; and Policing the Streets and Building Trust in Our Communities, which will feature Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, and other high-ranking members of the force for a productive dialogue between attendees and law enforcement officials.

“I will ask hard questions, such as how do we get corrupt officers off the streets, and how do we—the faculty, staff and students—get a seat at this table to enact change?” said Cruz-Ransom.

Along with the lessons she teaches in her classes, Cruz-Ransom wants these critical conversations to educate the next generation of individuals working in law enforcement.

“Part of my career has been to bridge the gap between students and the police—that is my mission,” she said.