A new report on the plight of girls in the nation's juvenile justice system has some shocking numbers: In some states, about 80% of them have been the victims of either sexual or physical abuse, reports the New York Times. It's often the abuse that triggers behavior that lands them in trouble, and once they're in the juvenile justice system, they rarely get the treatment they need, says the report by the Human Rights Project for Girls, the Georgetown Law Center for Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation for Women. In fact, the trauma usually worsens during incarceration, leading to yet more trouble upon release.
The report isn't just about headline-grabbing stats, "it's about the terrible ways in which the juvenile justice system fails young girls," usually poor minorities, observes a post at New York. The problem is so pervasive that the report is titled the "sexual abuse to prison pipeline." It notes that in many states, girls as young as 13 can be arrested for prostitution, and the authors call for an end to such arrests when the girls are the victims of sexual trafficking. “Our girls, and especially our girls at the margins, are suffering, and what the study shows is how violence is part of their lives and how the response is criminalization,” says the executive director of the Human Rights Project for Girls.