Sex Abuse High at Youth Detention Centers

A government study issued Thursday finds 13 juvenile detention facilities around the country have high rates of sex abuse and victimization, where nearly 1 out of every 3 inmates reported some type of victimization.

A Justice Department study has found that nationwide, about 12 percent of youths held in state-run, privately-run, or local facilities reported some type of sexual victimization - but those rates varied widely from place to place.

Six sites had reported victimization rates of 30 percent or higher.

The figures are based on surveys of youths in custody.

About 10 percent reported incidents involved facility staff people, and nearly all of those complaints were against female staffers. About 2 percent of the reported incidents involving abuse perpetrated against young inmates by other youths.

Approximately 26,550 juveniles are held in such facilities around the country, and the survey - conducted for the government by Westat, a company based on Rockville, Md. - collected information from about 9,000 of them.

The study identified six facilities where the survey found at least 3 out of every 10 inmates said they were sexually victimized while in custody: Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana; Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas; Backbone Mountain Youth Center in Swanton, Md.; Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs, N.C.; Cresson Secure Treatment Unit in Pennsylvania; and the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, Long Term, in Mitchells, Va.

At Pendleton, the rate of incidents was double the national average for such facilities.

Another seven sites reported nearly as high levels of sexual abuse or victimization: Victory Field Correctional Academy in Vernon, Texas; Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility; Shawono Center in Grayling, Michigan; Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville, Tenn.; L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs, Okla.; Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Virginia; New Jersey Training School in Monroe Township, N.J.

At those 13 facilities, most reports of sexual victimization involved nonconsensual sex acts with another youth or serious sex acts with facility staff.

Staff sexual misconduct was higher in state-run facilities than in privately or locally operated sites, the study found, and smaller facilities tended to have fewer incidents of sexual victimization.

Nearly 80 percent of the victims said at least one incident took place in a common area, such as a classroom or office, while about half said at least one incident happened in the shower, and half of the victims said they had been victimized by staff in their room or sleeping areas.

Most of the abuse took place in the evening, between 6 p.m. and midnight, the study found.
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