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Mental Health of Girls in Juvenile Detention at Risk

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The Human Rights Project for Girls, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation for Women released a recent study that 80 percent of females in juvenile detention centers have been physically or sexually assaulted in America. Due to the fact that most of these girls are incarcerated for issues related to trauma or abuse, it has been recommended that female inmates be screened for mental health issues. It is also suggested girls not be arrested for low-level crimes, such as prostitution.

The study, titled “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline”, found that 88 percent of these girls are in facilities without trained mental health professionals. The report is proposing to increase mental health care in these facilities to help with reform and to produce productive citizens instead of girls who are still damaged upon release.

While the abuse happens before retention, the time in incarceration only makes the trauma worse. Many girls shared stories in the report, talking about how juvenile detention only reinforced the previous traumas.

Many girls in detention are exhibiting behaviors of abuse, such as protecting themselves and committing acts of violence in response to previous trauma. Instead of treating the girls as criminals, the study suggests we begin working on reform and healing to help girls become functional women of society.

Read the full report here, and contact Vancouver Home Health Care Agency with any questions: The International Business Times.
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