Juvenile Facilities Report More Than 4,000 Sexual Violence Allegations

WASHINGTON — An estimated 4,072 allegations of sexual violence involving wards held in state, local and private juvenile facilities were reported during 2005 and 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

During 2006, allegations of sexual violence occurred at a rate of 16.8 reports per 1,000 youths held in juvenile detention, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The rate was an estimated 16.7 reports per 1,000 youths in 2005.

More than 60 percent of substantiated incidents occurred in areas other than the victim’s room or dormitory and in more than 60 percent of cases it was the victim or another youth who reported the incident.

Perpetrators of staff-on-youth sexual misconduct or harassment were arrested and referred for prosecution in almost 40 percent of substantiated incidents. More than 60 percent of perpetrators of youth-on-youth nonconsensual sexual acts received some degree of legal sanction.

Juvenile facilities in Texas reported 21 incidents of sexual violence involving staff and wards during 2005 and 2006 — the most of any state. Wisconsin reported nine incidents, the second- highest amount.

Why Do Juveniles Transferred to Adult System Have Higher Recidivism Rates?

Experts have identified several potential contributory factors: 

• Stigmatization and other negative effects of labeling juveniles as convicted felons.
• Sense of resentment and injustice at being tried and punished as adults.
• Learning of criminal mores and behavior while incarcerated with adult offenders.
• Decreased focus on rehabilitation and family support in the adult system.
• Reduced opportunities for employment and community reintegration due to felony conviction.

Texas’ juvenile population equates to approximately 11 percent of the total number of wards held in juvenile facilities in the United States. However, juvenile facilities in the state accounted for almost 30 percent of sexual violence allegations throughout the country, according to the report.

Nationally, an estimated 36 percent of allegations involved youth-on-youth nonconsensual sexual acts, such as rape, while 21 percent were youth-on-youth abusive sexual contacts, such as touching. Approximately 32 percent of allegations involved consensual or nonconsensual sexual misconduct by staff.

Correctional authorities substantiated 732 allegations of sexual violence during 2005 and 2006. An estimated 437 incidents were youth-on-youth, while an estimated 295 incidents were staff-on-youth, according to the report.

An estimated 73 percent of victims of substantiated incidents of youth-on-youth sexual violence were male, while 51 percent of victims of substantiated incidents of staff-on-youth sexual violence were female.

The use or threat of force was present in 30 percent of youth-on-youth incidents involving male victims compared to 6 percent of female victims of youth-on-youth incidents. More than 30 percent of victims 16 years and older were physically injured, held down, forced or threatened.

Victims received medical attention and mental health treatment or counseling in approximately 65 percent of substantiated incidents of youth-on-youth sexual violence.

Approximately 10 percent of substantiated incidents of staff-on-youth sexual violence involved the use or threat of force or pressure. Investigating authorities characterized approximately 65 percent of incidents as romantic or consensual in nature.

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