Hundreds of Teens Behind Bars Report Sexual Assaults by Staffers

Rape and sexual assault are frighteningly prevalent in the juvenile justice system.

By Jamilah King Jun 06, 2013

Hundreds of teens are raped and sexually assaulted during their time in the country’s juvenile detention centers, according to a new survey released today by the U.S. Department of Justice. And most of the assualts happen at the hands of staff members working at these facilities. 

The survey covered by both secure juvenile detention facilities and group homes, and involved more than 8,500 boys and girls. In total, 1,720 of those surveyed reported being sexually assaulted, and some of them said that they had been violated on more than 10 occassions. There are currently roughly 70,000 young people in the country’s juvenile detention facility.

Allen Beck, the author of the report, said that the rate of staff assaults on juvenile inmates is more than three times higher than that of adults.

More from ProPublica’s Joquain Sapien:

The highest incidence of staff sexual misconduct occurred in Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia and Illinois, while other states like New York, Massachusetts and Delaware, reported no abuse. At the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center in Georgia and the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility in Ohio, one in three youngsters surveyed said they’d suffered sexual abuse at the hands of staff members. 


The report gives some insight into how staff members victimize the youngsters under their care and supervision. In the majority of cases, the survey found, staff members establish a personal relationship with the inmate first by sharing details of their personal lives, sharing pictures, or giving gifts. The report indicates that one instance of abuse usually leads to more. 

Read more about the survey over at ProPublica and see the entire survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.