A new study released on Thursday says as many as 80 percent of the girls in some states????? juvenile justice systems have a history of sexual or physical abuse. It found that sexual abuse was among the primary predictors of girls’ involvement with juvenile justice systems, while the systems were ill-equipped to identify or treat the problem. Girls in juvenile facilities receive far less public attention, because there are fewer of them and their crimes usually do not involve violence. “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,” said Malika Saada Saar, the executive director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, which conducted the study. Among the girls referred to the juvenile justice system, who are disproportionately impoverished African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, 31 percent have been sexually abused, compared with 7 percent of boys in the system. In Oregon, this number is as high as 93 percent, while in California 81 percent of girls have experienced physical or sexual abuse. The report also recommended changing the laws in several states, where girls as young as 13 can be arrested on prostitution charges, even when they have been victims of sex trafficking. “When law enforcement views girls as perpetrators, and when their cases are not dismissed or diverted but sent deeper into the justice system, the cost is twofold: Girls’ abusers are shielded from accountability, and the trauma that is the underlying cause of the behavior is not addressed,” the report says.
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