The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story

Screenshot 2015-07-31 15.28.22Up to 80 percent of girls in some states’ juvenile justice systems have a history of sexual or physical abuse, according to a report from the Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Ms. Foundation for Women.

The report examines the sexual abuse to prison pipeline for girls, a phenomenon in which sexual abuse experienced by girls is one of the primary predictors of their involvement with the juvenile justice system. Examples of girls in the pipeline include those who are victims of sex trafficking and are arrested for prostitution, those who run away or become truant because of the abuse they experience, and those who cross into juvenile justice from the child welfare system.

The report finds that many facilities in the juvenile justice system are ill equipped to identify or treat girls who are victims of sexual or physical abuse, and provides recommendations on how to dismantle the pipeline. Examples of recommendations include expanding mental health and trauma services for girls in the system, and prohibiting the arrest and prosecution of girls younger than 18 on prostitution charges.