Sexual Assault Against Young Males in Prisons and Detention Centres

by CCMF Research Volunteer Hyginus Ihemere

Different forms of abuse are known to occur in prisons and detention centres. Some of the abuses occur between inmates, while in some instances, the perpetrators are the prison guards or officers. Although prison sexual assault is common in women prisons where it is known to occur between male guards and the female prisoners¹, there are also sexual abuse cases in prisons and detention centres whose perpetrators happen to be female guards. Unfortunately there seems to be little or no emphasis on this group of prison workers whom I would refer in this article as ‘The Unidentified Perpetrators’.

These uncommonly identified perpetrators have been implicated in a number of sexual ‘boundary violations’ in Correctional facilities and detention centers. In the United States, a 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody showed that over 8% of male juveniles in custody reported to have been sexually abused by a female worker². This issue of sexual abuse in the Juvenile detention centers was described in the Slate magazine and the National Post as “the dark secret of Juvenile detention centres”³. The fact that Juveniles placed in the custody of the State end up being victims of sexual abuse is nothing but a failure of the system. Smith and Loomis highlight that the progressive increase in the number of female Correctional officers which has occurred over years, has been associated with increase in boundary violations with over 60% of staff sexual misconducts being perpetrated by female guards⁴.

Based on the available evidence, boundary violations in regard to sexual abuse by female guards in prisons and detention centers are incidents that need proper reporting and investigation. This cannot be overemphasized especially when it involves a Juvenile who is under the care of the State.



  1. Buchanan, K. (2007) ‘Impunity: Sexual Abuse in Women’s Prisons’, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review Vol. 42 (Online). Available from: (Accessed. 19 September 2016)
  2. Beck, A., Cantor, D., Hartge, J. and Smith, T. (2013) ‘Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth,2012: National Survey of Youth in Custody, 2012’, U.S. Department of Justice (Online). Available from: (Accessed. 17 October 2016)
  3. Voorhees, J. (2014) ‘The dark secret of juvenile detention centres is the sexual abuse inflicted by female staffers’, National Post September 4 (Online). Available from: (Accessed. 17 October 2016)
  4. Smith, B. and Loomis, M. (2013) ‘After Dothard: Female Correctional Workers and the Challenge to Employment Law’, 8 Florida International University Law Review 469(Online). Available from: (Accessed. 17 October 2016)