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Sexual Violence in Juvenile Detention Facilities

The Department of Justice just released a shocking report, the National Survey of Youth in Custody, on the incidence of sexual assault and other involuntary sexual acts committed on juveniles in the nation’s detention facilities. Nationwide the figure looms darkly: 9.5 percent of children incarcerated have experienced sexual violence. In Pennsylvania, the figure is 7.5 percent of incarcerated youth have been victims of such crimes.

Most of the crimes were committed by staff rather than by other youths. However, gender and race are both factors. Boys were more likely to be abused by staff, both male and female. Females reported more abuse by other youths. White youths reported more peer sexual violence than Black or Hispanic teens, who reported more incidences involving staff at facilities. The June 6, 2013 report also revealed that:

  • Almost 68 percent of youth victimized by another youth reported experiencing physical threat or threat of force. Of those youths, 25.2 percent were offered favors or protection and 18.1 percent were given drugs or alcohol to engage in sexual conduct.
  • Most youth-on-youth victims reported more than one incident (69.6 percent).
  • An estimated 37.2 percent reported more than one perpetrator.
  • Most youth victimized by another youth reported no physical injury (82.1 percent).
  • Most victims of staff sexual misconduct reported more than one incident (85.9 percent).
  • About one in five victims of staff sexual misconduct reported experiencing physical force or threat of force, with 12.3 percent offered protection and 21.5 percent given drugs or alcohol in exchange for sexual contact.

When a teenager gets in trouble with the law, it is heartbreaking and often confusing for caring parents. Consult knowledgeable attorneys who understand the law and that youthful mistakes shouldn’t destroy a child’s future.

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