12% in juvenile centres sexually abused: Study, themoneytimes.com, January 8, 2010

Nearly 12 percent of youths detained in juvenile facilities in the nation are sexually abused, states the latest study by the Department of Justice.

Highlighting a problem that has gone unchecked over the years, the report stated that nearly 3220 of the young people imprisoned have been subject to sexual victimization either by their peers or prison staff.

The Justice Department defined sexual victimization as “unwanted sexual activity between youth and all sexual activity between youth and staff”.

Majority of juveniles abused by prison staff

The study, the first of its kind, shows that sexual abuse in juvenile centers is seven times more prevalent than indicated by the report presented in 2008 by the Justice Department. That report had collected sexual victimizations claims to the juvenile facility administrators.

But the study presented Thursday is based on a survey of 9,198 youth aged 13 to 21 detained in 195 juvenile centers in the nation, conducted from June 2008 to April 2009.

The report highlighted that nearly 10.3 percent of the young people reported being involved in sexual situation with staff, and about 2.6 percent reported sexual abuse by follow inmates.

About 4.3 percent of them reported having been involved in sexual activity as a result of coercion. Rest 6.4 percent reported sexual contact without force, threat etc.

Among youth abused by their fellow inmates, nearly 20 percent said they had been physically injured, and out of this 5 percent sought medication for their injuries.

Among those victimized by staff, 5 percent reported injuries, and only 1 percent sought medical attention.

Centers with high sexual victimization

The report also named 13 juvenile facilities with high rate of sexual abuse. Out of these facilities, six centers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas and Virginia had a sexual victimization rate of 30 percent or more.

In Maryland’s Backbone Mountain Youth Center, 36 percent of the youth said that they were sexually abused.

The Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana also reported high rate of sexual abuse. The center had last year suspended four females following a complaint of sexual abuse.

The report by the Justice Department has shocked the human rights advocates.

Linda McFarlane of Just Detention International, an advocacy group focused on eliminating sexual abuse in prison, told USA Today that the study on juvenile centers is valuable.

“We can look at the information in this report and use it to protect those (particularly vulnerable) kids," she said.

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