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New Justice Department Report Minimizes Rampant Sexual Abuse of Detained Youth
By Just Detention International
Published: 11/22/2010

Angryyoungman The Department of Justice has squandered an opportunity to address the rampant sexual abuse of detained youth, choosing instead to minimize this crisis. In the executive summary of its new "Report on Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Correctional Facilities," the Department's Review Panel on Prison Rape claims that a recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) "indicated that violent sexual assault in juvenile facilities was relatively rare and facility staff, for the most part, did not victimize juvenile offenders."

"In fact," said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International, "the BJS estimated that almost one in eight kids behind bars had been sexually victimized during a 12-month period, the vast majority of them -- 80 percent -- by staff whose job it is to keep them safe. Many endured repeated abuse, often more than ten times, and frequently by multiple perpetrators. I simply don't understand how that is 'rare.'"

Testimony from the report makes clear that many youth corrections administrators consider staff sexual abuse of detained youth to be largely consensual, or the result of youth manipulation. The Department of Justice perpetuates that view by insisting that most staff sexual abuse of juveniles is not "violent."

"These are teenagers and children we're talking about," said Stannow, "and corrections staff have immense power over their lives. They can influence when juvenile detainees are released; they can put them in solitary confinement; they can house vulnerable youth with inmates who are known to be violent or sexual predators; they can even deny these kids basic hygiene items. The very notion of any sort of consensual sexual relationship between juveniles and adults in such circumstances is grotesque."

Just Detention International hears daily from survivors of sexual abuse in detention, both youth and adults. In many of their letters, survivors emphasize the fact that they did not put up a fight because they were completely at the mercy of officials. One such survivor, Robin, said, "I did what I was told to do, because I wanted to go home." Another, Toni, explained, "People think rape is rape only when someone has a gun to your head. Prison officials don't need a gun; they already have full control over you." Every act of sexual contact between a staff member and a detainee, under any circumstances, is a crime in all 50 states. If the detainee is a minor, it is also child abuse. The Panel failed to acknowledge these basic legal facts in its report.

This week's report derives from hearings that the Panel held in June 2010 with officials from juvenile facilities identified in the BJS study as having some of the highest and lowest rates of sexual abuse. The Panel heard from two facilities where detainees reported zero sexual abuse -- the Ft. Bellefontaine Campus in Missouri and the Rhode Island Training School -- and three with some of the highest rates of abuse: Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana, Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Tennessee, and Corsicana Residential Treatment Center in Texas. At the facilities with the highest rates of abuse, between 26 and 36 percent of youth reported having been victimized in the preceding 12 months.

"The Review Panel's report clearly illustrates the difference in philosophy between facilities with low levels of abuse and those with high levels. Facilities that focus on treating youth with dignity and facilitating their healthy development are safer and more successful. As such, this week's report is much needed. It is unfortunate, however, that the Review Panel didn't use this opportunity to define the problem of sexual abuse of detained youth as the human rights crisis that it is," said Stannow.

While the executive summary minimizes the problem of sexual violence in youth detention and downplays the importance of the landmark Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the body of the report contains important information and recommendations.

One conclusion of the report is that institutional culture is a key predictor of sexual abuse. The Missouri Department of Youth Services is nationally recognized for the therapeutic model followed in its facilities. Conversely, the Indiana Division of Youth Service's Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility relies on a punitive approach, and one in three youth reported sexual victimization there.

The report also highlights the importance of hiring qualified staff and training them properly. It particularly emphasizes the vital role of strong professional boundaries for staff. The BJS study found that 95 percent of abuse reported by male youth was committed by female staff. In light of this, the Panel calls for more research into the dynamics of cross-gender supervision, effective training regimens, and the development of best practices.

The Review Panel's hearings and the BJS study were mandated by PREA, which also called for the development of national standards addressing sexual abuse in detention. A bipartisan commission developed such standards, which were submitted to Attorney General Holder in June 2009. Under the law, Holder had one year to publish a final rule; he missed the deadline, and has not indicated when he will promulgate the regulations.

"We wholeheartedly support the Panel's recommendations for further research," added Stannow. "But we already have a critical set of tools to combat prisoner rape at our disposal -- the national standards that await the Attorney General's approval. It's past time for these measures to become binding on facilities across the country."

Reprinted with permission:
Just Detention International is a human rights organization that seeks to end sexual violence in all forms of detention.

The Review Panel's "Report on Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Correctional Facilities" is available at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/reviewpanel/pdfs/panel_report_101014.pdf.


  1. sexual_truama on 03/20/2011:

    why is missouri court system not doing anything about this and the police are not doing anything about this in missouri either to prevent innoscent kids girls and boys from being sexually abused in facilities!! THAT IS ****ING BULLSHIT!!

  2. sexual_truama on 03/20/2011:

    why is missouri court system not doing anything about this and the police are not doing anything about this in missouri either to prevent innoscent kids girls and boys from being sexually abused in facilities!! THAT IS ****ING BULLSHIT!!

  3. sexual_truama on 03/20/2011:

    i hate sexual abuse!! i wanted it to stop my life has been controled by pedophiles!! it should not hurt to be a child or teenager but it did grately for me!! i wanted to die at age three but thats another story that has nothing to do with lock up juvi places it was in my own abusive home! CRYS!!

  4. sexual_truama on 03/20/2011:

    i'm 20 years old now and i'm severly hurt by this abuse as a innoscent child i know i did not deserve this inhuman treatment i feel like a holocaust victim one of the female staff at Elmore beat me up so bad and physically assaulted me for no reason i had two big bruses on my arm and puddle of blood and saliva and i had blood dots around my eyes and i was forced to cleen up my own blood and the staff threaten me if i didn't they were going to hurt me again and i was 18 at the time when this happen!! there was alot of body toutching because thats how the staff would restrain u is with their own bodies throughing u to the floor and up against the wall!! for no reason it had nothing to do with a kid missbehaving Elmore academy is a holocaust for innoscent kids age 10 to 21 girls and boys IT"S SAD AND ****** UP!! I"M REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THE PUBLIC SHOWERING AND THE THREAT OF BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WHILE TRYING TO TAKE A SHOWER!!

  5. sexual_truama on 03/20/2011:

    I AM ALSO A VITCIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE by female staff at a psych ward in Missouri AND DOMESTIC THREATS OF THREATENING TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY FEMALE STAFF IN A JUVENILE LOCK UP JAIL FOR KIDS 10 to 21 called Elmore Academy in Elmore Minnesota. i was 14 years old when i got illegally forced against my will to be locked up in a psych ward in springfield missouri called Lankland Regional Hospital!! it was a psych ward for minors and i had a accidental over dose of my bio parents prescription pills. the Ozark medical center emergency room forced me to go to the psych ward with out my parents permission!!i said i did not try to commit suicide and that i wanted to go home and i promissed i would never do it again!! it was on july 14, 2005 i got severly sexually abused by two female staff at the psych ward along with countless and thousands of innoscent girls and boys that got sent there and the psych ward staff male and female are still sexually abusing girls and boys at this psych ward!! i contacted the police and made a police report on it but the dumb police officer would not let me talk and would not investigate in the sexual abuse and did not take this seriouse!! when i got to Lankland Regional Hospital in Springfield missouri the female and male staff were forcing the innoscent girls and boys there age 10 to 17 years old to be completly naked in a random bedroom infront of the bedroom door and were sexually abusing girls and boys while they were forced to be completly naked infront of two female staff!! for boys it was two male staff but now i rescently called the place and they have one female and one male staff doing repeaded strip shearches on the boys and for girls it's still only two female staff. the two female psych ward staff forced me to be complety naked in a random bedroom infront of the bedroom door with no lock on it where there would be alot of staff and other kids that could open the door durring the strip shearch!! the staff are very mulipulitive and while u are there as a kid they lie and say it's not a strip shearch and they call it a naked body assessment to check for scars and woonds which is ****ing bullshit and not nessessary and unneeded!! the two female staff forced me to be nake for 30 WHOLE ****NG MINUTES DOING A PRISION LIKE STRIP SHEARCH ON ME WHEN I WAS 14 years old. one of the two female staff in the room forced me to be naked infront of the bedroom door while she open it several times for other girls and boys and male and female staff can see me standing in the room naked from the comon areas where other people were at about five kids my age and three female staff and maybe a couple male staff!! the two female staff forced me to be completly naked for no reason for 30 whole minutes while i was on my period bleeding every where on the floor and bed with no product on no tampon or anything!! the two female staff threaten me and sexually herrassed me to get me to take off my clothes and under wear i was scarred and i thought i was going to keep my under wear on but they forced me to take off my under wear and bra and expose my privates boobs breast and crotch and bare ass and be completly naked like as if i was a adult criminal in a prision but i was just a innoscent 14 year old girl that had a accidental over dose in my own home in my bedroom alone with no one!!i was at this psych ward for only 7 days which is one week!! but i was there illegally and they lied on the papers saying i was vulentary!! and i was not at any risk of harming my self or others they forced me to be in a psych ward for no reason like as if it was funny to scare a innoscent girl!! and harm a innoscent girl. the two female staff tried to make me take off my clothes a secound time and be completly naked but i said no i aint doing this again and the staff were playing weird sexually intentions sexually abuse games with me and while i was forced to be naked!! the male and female staff did strip shearches three times with in the same day on the other girls and boys there just for the fun of it!! the psych ward staff are pedophiles and think it's funny to sexually abuse innoscent kids and teens!! my body was already looked at at the emergency hospital when the nurses changed me into a gown and cut my under wear and bra off so there was no ****ing reason for the psych ward staff to think i had any scars or woonds and u don't force a kid or teen to be completly naked u just ****ing ask them if they have any scars or woonds!! the staff are very malipulitive and threatening and herrassing to make the girls and boys repeadily get sexually abused!! i contacted about 20 attornys in the state of missouri and they all said i had a case but i have not found a attorny that can take my case yet if u are a attorny in Missouri or some one who can help me sue this pedophile pscyh ward for sexually abusing me and other poor innoscent kids and teens girls and boys please call me at 320-629-3801 THANK YOU! or if u are or have been a kid or teen at this psych ward in missouri and would like to teem up with me and contact attornys and sue thoughs dumb mother ****ers for doing prision like strip shearches on us youth and for no ****ing reason!! i want to sue thoughs ****ing pedophile staff and psych ward for filthy dirty envirement, unsafe envirement, unhealthy envirement, sexual abuse on a minor, criminal charges, obsessive repeaded nudity of minors by adult staff, privacy violation and amandment violation!!! I WISH I COULD PUT THIS DUMB ****ING PSYCH WARD STAFF IN PRISION AND BE REGISTERED AS A PEDOPHILE SEX OFFENDER and get 20 years in prision for what they are doing now and then to me as innoscent children!! public nudity or undressing infront of people goes against my religion and it violated my religous beliefs!! i had a roomate Jayme and Ally but i do not remember the staffs names or last names of the kids there!! one 17 years old boy was also very mad along with the other girls and boys because they had three male staff in a random bedroom forcing this 17 year old boy to stand completly naked infront of the bedroom door for like five minutes and the third staff guy that was not suppost to be in there was sitting on the bed starring at his dick the whole time and that is ****ing sexually inappropriate and sexual herrassment and there is sexual intentions. when i was back in Minnesota where i'm originally from i got sent again away for no reason in a lock up place at 17years old on february 27,2009 called Elmore Academy for juvenile delinquents and the female staff would threaten to restrain girls and beat them up while their naked in the shower just because the teen girls took a extra minutes in the shower!! it's a privacy violation and domestic threats to a innoscent child!! the shower area was way to public but there was shower curtains and walls seperating from eachother shower stall there was seprate shower stalls but.....i think i wrote enough for right now!! the female staff never did restrain the girls like they said they were going to but that would of been a sexual asssault and sexual abuse and the curtains get bump some times and girls see other girls naked by accident and female staff to because they force every one to be in each shower stall at once taking a shower which public showering and is very innapropriate and unsafe!! i was at this place for five months after my 18th brithday and i was severly beat up, starved no meals and no sleep, no shower time for punishment, no clean clothes, no water and no bathroom brake i had to pee on the floor once because the staff refused to let me use the bathroom which was about 12 hours or so from my last bathroom brake that i was allowed which is ****ing really bad!! i'm sure there has been many girls sexually assaulted by the female staff because of being restrained for no reason while naked in the shower and when the staff restrain u there put their whole bodies on u and lay on top of u and pull ur arms behind ur back and deliveratly hurt u for no ****ing reason!! i'm glad though they never did that when i was there about the shower thing!! AAHHH!! and they did repeaded unessessary pat downs on us girls for no reason but thank god the staff did not toutch are privates but it was still violating and sexually innapropriate!

  6. prznboss on 11/24/2010:

    The article discusses the importance of hiring competent staff. I agree with that but how come any job working with youth pays far less than jobs working with adults? That right there tells me that youth are considered less important. Is it because they file fewer lawsuits that administration figures they can get away with hiring less competent staff? Makes you wonder.

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