A new U.S. Department of Justice survey has found a high rate of rape and sexual abuse in the country’s juvenile justice system. Additionally, South Carolina ranked second in a list of states with the highest rates of abuse.
The new report found that teens were most often abused by staff at the juvenile detention facilities. Twenty percent of those abused by staff say they were violated 10 times or more.
The new report also found that youth who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or some other non-heterosexual orientation reported a substantially higher rate of victimization from other youth, with 1.5 percent of heterosexual youth reporting youth-on-youth assault, compared to 10.3 percent of non-heterosexual youth. The report did not include specific data for transgender or other gender-non-conforming youth.
South Carolina officials blame their high rate on one employee at the Birchwood detention center. Larry Vanderbilt, general council for the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice, said the employee was linked to at least two incidents and is now being criminally prosecuted.
South Carolina, which ranked second, is joined by Ohio, which ranked first, and Georgia and Illinois, which ranked third and fourth, respectively. Two facilities in South Carolina, the Birchwood center and the John G. Richards center, participated.
States with the lowest incident rates including New York, Massachusetts and Delaware, where no assaults were reported.