Sexual assaults and other illicit sexual contact are reported at juvenile prisons at 10 times the rate than at adult lockups, says a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study cited by USA Today. The numbers are based on substantiated reports to corrections officials last year.
Better reporting is one factor contributing to the higher rate at the juvenile corrections centers, said study co-author Allen Beck. Beck the study did not make a distinction between consensual and nonconsensual sexual contact. For people under age 18, any sexual contact is considered illegal. The study found that most of the reports of sexual violence, which includes consensual acts, in adult facilities involved guards and other corrections officials having sexual contact with inmates. It is not clear how much unwanted sexual contact takes place between prisoners because victims may fear retaliation if they go to authorities. For 2004, more than 8,200 allegations of sex violence were reported to corrections officials. About one-third of the complaints were substantiated by officials, and 15 percent were still being investigated.