Key Considerations

There are many key considerations to think about related to trauma notifications. 

Social Media

Social media can challenge the notification process. The family may already be aware of their loved one’s victimization, and you may be confirming it. The family may be angry at the trauma notification team if they learned about the crime through social media and not an official source. It is important to explain that social media is not an official source of information and it takes time to gather accurate information and victim identification. In cases of death, no one wants to receive or deliver a trauma notification for the wrong person. 


Children should be considered when making trauma notifications. Parents/caregivers may decide if children should be present for the initial notification, if it is at all possible. Also, if there is a language barrier, children should never be used to translate. Young children will often mimic their primary caregiver's reaction. Generally, trauma notifications should be delivered by a person that the child trusts. If asked by the legal guardian to assist in notifying children some best practices include using age-appropriate language and sitting on the same level as child (on floor or in chair at equal level). If possible, have community resources available to assist.

Persons with Disabilities, Older Adults, Communication Barriers

It is important to be aware of providing trauma notifications to persons with disabilities. Best practices can be found in the resource section of this training. 

As our population ages, be aware of the issues experienced by older adults. This may include visual or hearing impairments or diagnoses of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Another consideration may be communication barriers. The family may benefit from a translator. Identifying local language services in your area in advance is helpful. A local university or immigration center may be an additional resource. 

Deceased Subjects

In criminal events when a subject is deceased, the same protocol can be utilized to notify the subject’s family. However, it is best practice not to use the same trauma notification team for the victim’s family and the subject’s family. 

It is not recommended that a victim advocate accompany law enforcement or the coroner to provide the trauma notification to the subject’s family. This can create role confusion for all parties as the subject may not be not considered a legal crime victim. A chaplain may be a better choice. It is possible that the subject and victim may be related, so be aware of these sensitivities. 

There may be a lasting impact on the victim’s loved ones if the subject is deceased. There may not be a criminal justice process, thus creating a lot of unanswered questions and a lack of accountability or sense of justice. If the victim and subject are from the same family, the grief process can be complicated for the NOK. It is important to stick to the facts when delivering the trauma notification and not insert personal opinions.