August 5, 2015

Report: Most Girls in Many State Juvenile Justice Systems Have Been Abused

A new study finds that girls in the juvenile justice systems of several states “have typically experienced overwhelmingly high rates of sexual violence.”  “The link appears to continue even after girls are released,” the report said. “A recent study has shown that sexual abuse is one of the strongest predictors of whether a girl will be charged again.”

The study, by the Human Rights Project for Girls, the Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, and The Ms. Foundation for Women, also reports that the proportion of girls, particularly girls of color, in the juvenile justice system is increasing.  “African American girls constitute 14% of the general population nationally, but 33.2% of girls detained and committed,” the report said. It also found that Native American girls, and youths who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming are also disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including improving the child welfare system’s identification of abuse victims, implementing a gender-responsive approach for those victims, and using Medicaid funds to improve quality care and trauma related services for girls in child welfare.

For more information, read a New York Times article on the study or click here to read the full study.