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Juveniles are teenagers who have not yet reached the age of maturity. When they take part in a criminal activity or an illegal behavior it becomes the case of juvenile delinquency and for the same reason they are held accountable and taken to juvenile detention centers and courts where their cases are deal properly.
These juvenile detention centers are meant to look after the juveniles after they get arrested for displaying offensive or criminal behavior. Some are government-owned while rest are private. The private youth facilities claim to offer a better system for the juveniles but the recent research reports are saying otherwise. Not all of these private centers are fulfilling their promises as reports of sexual abuse, mistreatment, and neglect have been surfacing lately. However, not all of these private centers are capable of providing care and attention to these young ones.
Many cases of abuse – physical and verbal, neglect, and mistreatment have been reported from private youth juvenile centers in the past few years. One of the most famous cases of abuse was reported from Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility where sexual abuse was being committed between juveniles themselves (which was totally ignored by the security personnel) and by the security guards on the juveniles. It was found out that guards beat and pepper sprayed juveniles and also ignored the ongoing gang fights and assaults between the juveniles. Some of the guards were also reported to have affiliations with the gangs.
This case is just one example out of thousands of other cases where same abuse, neglect, and misconduct is witnessed across various private youth detention facilities. In fact, the cases of the inadequacy of proper treatment and care were all commonplace occurrences at these private juvenile centers.
The following video, which was originally reported by Unreported World, a critically acclaimed series by Channel 4, tells the story of a 14-year old Aboriginal buy who was detailed in an Australian juvenile detention centre. The guards employed at the private centre gave him a brutal treatment by saturating his room with tear gas. Later, they stripped, hooded, and retrained him, making it difficult for him to breathe.
Video source: Unreported World, a series by Channel 4.
Compared to the government-controlled juvenile centers, the private youth facilities were found to have a double rate of reported sexual abuse. This difference in sexual abuse was confirmed by the US Department of Justice after looking at a survey conducted in 2012. The same year, Juvenile Residential Facility Census found that private facilities generally had a higher death rate compared to the government-controlled facilities.
After coming across numerous cases of inadequate attention given to the juveniles in the private youth facilities, it is appalling to know that so little efforts have been made to solve these issues. So what are the reasons for not paying attention to them?
First of all, when cases of sexual abuse are reported, the companies and their officials, instead of putting a stop to them, try to cover up these issues before they fall under the spotlight or hit the law enforcement.
Most of these private youth facilities do nothing when cases of abuse are reported. Only when an insider leaks the information, the police intervenes and launches an investigation to look into the matter.
It is understandable what difference issues like sexual abuse, neglect, and other misconduct can make on the lives of juveniles detained in the private youth centers. If not taken care properly, they can face severe physical, emotional, and psychological issues which can be everlasting and pose a threat to their survival.
With abuse and other cases of mistreatment becoming widespread in these private centers, it is time for the states to intervene the situation by phasing out private prisons. The government should take a closer look at what’s happening inside these private facilities. Royal commission should be involved to look into the severity of the matter and investigate the private juvenile detention centres across the world.
Juvenile delinquents need proper attention, care, and rehabilitation so they can better themselves and move forward with their lives. They do not need to become a part of the criminal justice system as adults.
By allowing private youth centers to ruin their lives is quite detrimental to their future. Therefore, these private centers should be thoroughly assessed to find out if they’re masking any abuse cases.