Prevalence and Patterns of Violent Sexual Victimization Among Delinquent Females

Karen M. Abram, Northwestern University Medical School
Devon R. Charles, Northwestern University Medical School
Gary M. McClelland, Northwestern University Medical School
Linda A. Teplin, Northwestern University Medical School

Female juvenile arrest and detention rates are growing faster than those for juvenile males. While females are increasingly arrested for crimes against persons and violent crimes, little is known about their rates of victimization. Public health professionals believe that rates of sexual victimization are extremely high among female detainees. However, there are few empirical data and no large-scale studies.

We examine lifetime experiences of different forms of violent sexual victimization among female juvenile detainees and compare them to the rates of sexual victimization among male juvenile detainees. Respondents were part of a larger study of 1829 juvenile detainees, 1172 males and 657 females, ages 10-18. We present data on 895 subjects (364 female, 531 male) who were administered measures of sexual victimization.

Forty-seven percent of the female detainees reported sexual victimization at some point in their lives, compared to 12% of male detainees. These rates are much higher than the general population rates of 1.6% and 0.4% for females and males, respectively. We will present rates and patterns of violent sexual victimization by gender, race/ethnicity, and age, and examine the respondent's relationship to the perpetrator.

These findings have important implications for services and prevention programs targeting juveniles both in the justice system and in the community.

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Updated 05/20/2006