BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

clear image
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Get notifications  |  Help  |  A-Z Topic List
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
clear image
Home  |  Press Releases
ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EST Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 2010 Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
www.bjs. After hours: (202) 598-0556



WASHINGTON – An estimated 12 percent of adjudicated youth (3,220) in state operated and large locally or privately operated juvenile facilities reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another youth or facility staff in a survey mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. About 2.6 percent of youth (700) reported an incident involving another youth, and 10.3 percent (2,730) reported an incident involving facility staff.

The National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC) limited reporting by youth to incidents occurring in the last 12 months or since their admission to the facility, if less than 12 months. Sexual victimization is defined as any unwanted sexual activity between youth and all sexual activity between youth and staff. About 4.3 percent of youth (1,150) reported having sex or sexual contact with staff as a result of force; 6.4 percent of youth (1,710) reported sexual contact with staff without any force, threat, or other explicit form of coercion.

Males were more likely than females to report sexual activity with facility staff (10.8 percent compared to 4.7 percent), but less likely than females to report forced sexual activity with another youth (2.0 percent compared to 9.1 percent). Overall, 91 percent of youth in the facilities in the survey were males; 9 percent were females.

Approximately 95 percent of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female facility staff. In 2008, 42 percent of staff in juvenile facilities under state jurisdiction were female.

Nearly half of the youth victimized by another youth reported they had experienced physical force or threat of force (46 percent), 30 percent had been offered favors or protection, and 17 percent had been given drugs or alcohol. Among youth victimized by facility staff, more than two-thirds (69 percent) did not report any force, threat of force, or offers of favors, protection, drugs, or alcohol to engage in the sexual activity. Nearly 20 percent of youth sexually victimized by another youth reported being injured in the incident, compared to five percent of youth victimized by staff.

All estimates of sexual victimization are subject to sampling error. A 95 percent-confidence interval including an upper and lower bound was constructed around each survey estimate to provide the range of values could have occurred if different samples were drawn.

To fulfill requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, BJS identified 13 facilities as “high rate.”  These 13 facilities had a confidence interval with a lower bound that was at least 35 percent higher than the average rate among facilities categorized by type of consent. Six facilities had victimization rates of 30 percent or more.

BJS also identified 11 facilities as “low rate” based on the low percentages of youth who reported incidents, and the upper bound of the 95 percent-confidence interval was less than half the average rate among facilities. Five of the low rate facilities had no reported incidents of sexual victimization.

The NSYC was conducted between June 2008 and April 2009 in 166 state owned or operated juvenile facilities and 29 locally or privately operated facilities, yielding 9,198 completed interviews from adjudicated youth. The survey was administered using an audio computer-assisted self-interview instrument (ACASI) on touch-screen laptop computers in a private setting.

Administrators in each facility determined the type of consent required for youths. In loco parentis (ILP)—“in the place of a parent”—was required in 63 facilities. In the remaining 132 facilities, consent from the youths’ parents or guardians (PGC) was required. In addition, survey staff had to receive assent from the youth prior to conducting the interview. Approximately 80 percent of sampled youth in ILP facilities and 40 percent in PGC facilities participated in the survey. Overall, 54 percent of sampled youth completed the sexual victimization survey.

The report, Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09 (NCJ 228416) was written by BJS statisticians Allen J. Beck, Paige M. Harrison, and Paul Guerino. Following publication, the report can be found at


    For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at

# # #

    The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at


Back to Top