In Spite of Reform Attempts, Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Detention Still Rampant

In Spite of Reform Attempts, Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Detention Still Rampant

In early 2016, the Supreme Court ruled to allow former juvenile criminals serving life sentences to ask for their sentences to be reviewed during parole hearings. Simultaneously, the president put his signature on a ban on solitary confinement at juvenile detention centers.

This country is, thus, well aware of the horrors and lasting trauma often involved in unlawful practices that occur at facilities holding delinquent youth.

As attempts at reform continue, little has been seen in the way of improving the conditions at juvenile correctional facilities.

A report from the Department of Justice released a couple of years ago revealed that from 2007 to 2012, the number of rape allegations against guards and staff, in a sample of over 1,400 facilities, had doubled.

Surprisingly, the population of the facilities had dropped, meaning there were fewer children and teens there, but they were enduring sexual abuse more often. In 2018, we are looking at a very similar scenario.

In fact, a 2015 report by The Council of State Governments Justice Center also revealed that merely about a dozen US states offer youth in juvenile detention adequate educational opportunities.

The  Bureau of Justice Statistics has also found, through anonymous surveys, that 10% of children are abused during detention, often on  a regular basis.  For Lovisa Stannow, an international advocate for just detention, the statistics are, “Deeply troubling — but not at all surprising.”

When youth in detention report sexual abuse, facilities rarely follow up with an independent and thorough investigation. Moreover, when allegations are found to be true, the abusers are almost never punished for their crime; at best, they may be fired.

According to research, only 36% of staff found guilty of sexual abuse by internal facility investigations are referred to the criminal justice system.

Only 16 out of 100 staff members found to be responsible of sexual abuse end up getting arrested. 20% of abusers are even allowed to keep their jobs.

If all the allegations facilities fail to investigate were taken into account, these shocking statistics would be even more appalling.

For Stannow, who is a representative of JUST DETENTION INTERNATIONAL,

“When staff who sexually abuse kids in their custody are allowed to get off scot-free and, in some cases, continue to be employed in the very facility where they committed the abuse, it’s a clear sign that the system is failing... The lack of accountability described in the new BJS report is simply outrageous.”

But children are not only exposed to sexual abuse including rape, and by an authority figure, no less; when they are abused, over 50% of the victims receive no medical care. This includes victims who are under 12 years old.

Of all the sexual abuse allegations included in the DOJ´s report, which total about 9,500, 45% were against adult staff members and 55% against fellow detainees. One thing that appears different in juvenile detention when compared to society as a whole is that 64% of the confirmed allegations refer to abuse by a female.

According to the DOJ´s report, many of these instances of abuse involve a child who “appeared to be willing” and a female guard who saw fit to overlook the law about sexual interactions with minors, and the nature of their job, which is to keep those children safe.

Scholars have heavily criticized the terms used by the DOJ, because they appear to undermine the terrible danger and the traumatic potential of the experience of being manipulated to have sex with an adult while being underage.

Society as a whole tends to believe that teenage boys want sex, therefore, the behavior of female guards is less harmful than if they were male. This is completely wrong, and if the system wants to reform, female perpetrators of sexual abuse at juvenile detention facilities need to be met with the full weight of the law.

We will not become an evolved society for as long as we keep denying minors who make mistakes the possibility to learn something and re-enter society to become healthy, law-abiding, and productive citizens.

For now, reform is just a pretty word for newspaper headlines, but if you ask the children being held at detention facilities all over America today, it is far from enough.

If a family member is a victim of sexual predators at a jail or juvenile detention facility, we want to hear from you. We are actively investigating claims and filing juvenile sex abuse lawsuits against jails, prisons, detention centers, cities, counties and individuals.

You can help hold the culprits accountable and you may be entitled to compensation. 866.836.4684 or CONNECT ONLINE


Recent articles: