Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Decreasing: BJS

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Photo courtesy Campaign for Youth Justice

The number of youths in the nation’s juvenile correctional facilities who reported being sexually victimized has decreased, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

In 2018, an estimated 7.1 percent of youth in juvenile correctional facilities reported sexual victimization during the prior 12 months, down from 9.5 percent in 2012. From 2012 to 2018, the percentage of youth who reported forced or coerced sexual victimization involving another youth declined from 2.5 percent to 1.9 percent.

The percentage of youth who reported sexual misconduct by facility staff declined from 7.7 percent to 5.8 percent.

These figures are featured in the new report “Sexual Victimization Reported by Youth in Juvenile Facilities, 2018,” from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics

BJS defines sexual victimization in a juvenile facility as “any sexual activity with facility staff, or any forced or coerced sexual activity with another youth.” Force or coercion includes physical force, threat of force, or other forms of pressure or coercion, such as threatening to get the youth in trouble, giving the youth money, favors, protection, or special treatment, or repeatedly asking the youth to engage in sexual activity.

The findings are based on a survey that was completed by 6,049 youth in 327 juvenile facilities, including at least one juvenile facility in every state and the District of Columbia.

In all, 4 percent of youth in juvenile facilities reported experiencing sexual victimization involving force or coercion. About half of these youth reported forced or coerced sexual victimization by youth (1.9 percent of all youth in juvenile facilities) and about half reported forced or coerced sexual victimization by staff (2.1 percent).

In 2018, female youth (4.7 percent) in juvenile facilities were more likely than male youth (1.6 percent) to report youth-on-youth sexual victimization. Male youth (6.1 percent) were more likely than female youth (2.9 percent) to report staff sexual misconduct.

Out of 113 facilities with enough interviews to qualify for facility-level rankings, 12 were identified as high-rate and 14 as low-rate based on the prevalence of sexual victimization reported by youth.

Among states that were eligible for state-level estimates and had at least a 50 percent response rate among eligible sampled youth, the rate of sexual victimization reported by youth ranged from 0 to 12.3 percent.

This report, the third in a series that began in 2008-2009, presents estimates of youth-on-youth sexual victimization and staff sexual misconduct in juvenile facilities, as reported by youth.

The report was written by BJS statistician Erica L. Smith and former BJS statistician Jessica Stroop.

The full report can be obtained here.

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