Thousands of Complaints of Sexual Abuse from Migrant Youths in Detention Centers

On Tuesday, a Democratic representative from Florida, Ted Deutch, released a report outlining the sexual abuse of migrant youths in detention facilities that included 4,556 filed complaints of sexual abuse from other youths in detention, adult staff, and other adults who are not staff.

The report detailed complaints over the last four years from October 2014 to July 2018 by the Department of Health & Human Services and an additional 1,303 complaints have been filed to the Justice Department. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is tasked with caring for unaccompanied migrant minors and is faced with responding to the complaints in the report.

In response to the report, Representative Matt Gaetz made inflammatory comments, stating that the youths were more at risk of being sexually abused by traffickers instead of government officials. The report details complaints of sexual abuse, including minors having non-consensual relationships with staff.

The hope for releasing the report is for the Department of Health & Human Services to take a more active approach in investigating claims, taking action, and ensuring that the youths are safe in these detention centers. Over the last years, while the number of sexual abuse complaints has continued to rise, there is a lack of transparency from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

It is vital to hold the agencies tasked with ensuring the protection and safety of migrant youth accountable and have complete transparency of what occurs in detention centers. The urgency of the issue is intensified because thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their parents and sent to detention centers since April 2018.  Migrant youths alone in detention centers have no voice and are lost within the system; however, the abuse they suffer should not be forgotten nor should it continue to go unheard.


Media Resources: Romper, 2/26/2019; CBS News, 2/26/2019; Axios, 2/26/2019

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