Sex Abuse in Detention: Numbers are Low, But Still Troubling

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The FBI did some extensive research on sexual victimization in juvenile facilities across the country and found that violent sex assaults are relatively rare, but the numbers are still disturbing.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-2009. The report found that out of about 26,000 kids in both state and privately run facilities, 12.2% (3,220) said they experienced sexual violence. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Youth-on-youth sex abuse incidents: 2.6%.
  • Youth-on-youth incidents involving force: 2%
  • Staff-on-youth sex abuse incidents: 10.3%
  • Staff-on-youth incidents involving force: 4.3%

And here’s a surprising find: Facilities that housed only girls had the highest rates of youth-on-youth sex abuse (11%), while detention centers that housed only boys had the highest rates of sexual misconduct involving staff (11.3%).

The study found two detention facilities had remarkably few reports: Ft. Bellefontaine in Missouri had zero incidents and the Rhode Island Training School had only one. These facilities are considered successful because they’re small, focused on rehabilitation and have a variety of avenues for kids to report sex abuse.

For the full report, click here.

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