Gender & Sexuality

Sexual Abuse of Juvenile Inmates in Texas

Check out Laura Burke's probing cover story in The Texas Observer, “A Woman's Touch,”about the prevalence of women staffers abusing juvenile inmates in Texan facilities. Many of the abused kids are conditioned to keep silent about any abuse, and people are reluctant to believe that women, who are usually thought of as nurturers, could be perpetrators of sexual assault.

Those perceptions don't jibe with reality: Nationwide, 95 percent of sexual abuse allegations in juvenile correctional facilities were against female employees, according to 2008 findings released this year by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. That number is striking when you consider that just 42 percent of the facilities' employees were women in 2008.

Even worse, the juvenile population often includes children as young as 11 or 12, but older teenagers are also vulnerable to predation.

In terms of cognitive, emotional, and intellectual development, they are, on average, several years behind their peers... An older teen might look like an adult, Duncan notes, but “an 18- or 19-year-old inmate has the emotional maturity of a 13- or 14-year-old.”

Read the entire article here.

About the reporter

Jayati Vora

Jayati Vora

Jayati Vora is managing editor at The Investigative Fund. Previously, she was features editor for Al Jazeera America, and during her time there led numerous longform and investigative projects.