Understanding the Rise in Sexual Abuse Cases at Juvenile Facilities

There are several factors that might make children in juvenile detention facilities particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse, including gender, the culture within a facility, and experience with sexual assault prior to their arrest. While federal laws like the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) are a great start to combating issues within the prison system, advocates believe that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to eradicate these problems. 

A survey conducted in 2018 by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the rate of sexual abuse reported by juvenile detainees dropped from 9.5% in 2012 to 7.1% in 2018. However, many believe that these statistics do not provide accurate depictions of the sexual abuse in these correction centers. Even with protective laws in place, many victims of sexual abuse don’t report the act because of feelings of fear and shame.  

What is the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)? 

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) — a bipartisan law passed by Congress in 2003 — aims to provide information, resources, and funding to federal, state, and local institutions to enable them to better to protect individuals from prison rape and sexual assault. The PREA works to use committees and legislation to create a fair and safe criminal justice system and aims to ease concerns over sexual assault in these facilities. 

Listed below are some mandates and additions of the PREA:

  • Created and distributed funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Corrections that support major efforts in many state jail systems.
  • Started the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, which creates standards for eliminating prison rape.
  • Mandated significant research from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice.

Eliminating sexual assault and abuse in detention facilities is a complex process but with the PREA’s assistance and funding, many hope to stop these acts of aggression and violence. If you think your child might be a victim of sexual abuse inside a detention center, contact an experienced juvenile crimes attorney.  

The Impact that Jokes Have on Sexual Assault in Correctional Facilities 

Jokes about prison rape and assault are often excused as dark humor, which has led to some facilities neglecting to address the seriousness of these situations. When PREA is discussed, many former juvenile detainees explain that the legislation is not taken seriously within the prison system. 

Advocates are working to incorporate more training and education for both the children and the facility employees, as well as introducing better confidential reporting systems for detention centers. Many hope that by educating the children on identifying and understanding the culture of sexual abuse, more people will come forward to report sexual assaults and stop those committing them.

Incentives, Coercion, and Power Play Major Roles in Sexual Abuse at Juvenile Facilities

Power dynamics inside juvenile facilities are the main contributors to unreported rape and sexual abuse. While girls in correctional centers are more often abused by their peers, boys are more likely to be abused by staff members. Incentives like extra food and threats that create fear of exposure in exchange for sexual acts with staff members are serious issues. 

Children in these centers are unable to give consent due to power imbalances resulting from positions of authority and age. Staff members are responsible for protecting these children, so those committing rape and sexual abuse are not only failing to do their jobs, but they will also be charged for their crimes if they are reported and arrested. Sadly, because of complicated power dynamics and culture surrounding sexual abuse, many children have difficulty reporting these incidents.

Trust an Experienced Mankato Juvenile Crimes Attorney 

Sometimes our children make mistakes that are punishable by law, and while it is necessary for them to learn by being held accountable for their actions, we still expect those in juvenile detention centers to care for and protect them.

If you suspect that your child is enduring sexual abuse inside a juvenile detention facility, contact Knutson + Casey to get the help of an experienced and understanding juvenile crimes attorney. Our team advocates for clients’ legal rights while providing guidance and assistance throughout the entire process.

To learn more about how we can assist you and to talk with a juvenile crimes attorney, call (507) 344-8888 or fill out our online contact form