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Federal Study Finds Disturbing Rates of Sexual Abuse at Juvenile Detention Centers

A government study released on Thursday found staggering rates of sexual abuse at juvenile correctional centers around the country. According to the study, nearly one out of three inmates at 13 juvenile detention centers around the country reported some type of sexual victimization. The Federal Justice Center report, which was the first of its kind, found that about 12 percent of youths in state-run, private, or local facilities experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse. The survey used information collected from an anonymous computerized questionnaire from June 2008 through April 2009.

The victims reported abuse at the hands of both juvenile detention center employees and fellow inmates. About 10 percent of the victims implicated abuse at the hands of juvenile detention center staff with nearly all of those allegations against female staffers. Six facilities had extremely high rates of sexual abuse in that at least three out of ten juvenile inmates reported some form of sexual abuse. Those facilities include Pendelton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana. Another seven detention centers showed nearly equivalent levels of sexual abuse. The report found that staff sexual misconduct was markedly higher at state run facilities and that smaller facilities tended to have fewer reports of victimization. In commenting on the study Indiana Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Garrison said, “There’s no such thing as consensual sex in a correctional facility, certainly not in a juvenile facility.”

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