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Incarcerated Youth at Risk in Juvenile Facilities

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 12 percent of youth in state-operated and large locally- or privately-operated juvenile facilities reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another youth or facility staff (the report estimates that about 3,200 youth are victims).

The National Survey of Youth in Custody recorded assaults on youth occurring in the last 12 months (or since their admission to the facility, if less than 12 months). According to the report, the biggest risk factor was prior abuse: 65% of those who had previously been sexually assaulted at another correctional facility were also assaulted at their current one.

According to the report, in prison culture, even in juvenile detention, after an inmate is raped for the first time he or she is considered “turned out” and fair game for further abuse. Eighty-one percent of those sexually abused by other inmates were victimized more than once, and 32% more than ten times. Forty-two percent were assaulted by more than one perpetrator.

Males were more likely than females to report sexual activity with facility staff (10.8 percent compared to 4.7 percent), but less likely than females to report forced sexual activity with another youth (2.0 percent compared to 9.1 percent). Overall, 91 percent of youth in the facilities in the survey were males; 9 percent were females.

The long-term effects of such abuse include depression, drug abuse and PTSD; if untreated, the abuse may have very long-lasting effects. While more than 100,000 people a year are helped by RAINN’s hotlines (800-656-HOPE and online at rainn.org), residents of correctional facilities are less likely to have access to RAINN’s help or that of a local crisis center.

To read the entire report, visit the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.


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