An alarming report has been brought to the forefront about young girls in the criminal justice system.

The Human Rights Project for Girls, the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law and the Ms. Foundation found 80 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system are victims of sexual or other physical violence.

Instead of getting the professional help they need, girls are being incarcerated and so begins the “sexual abuse to prison pipeline,” where victims are punished and not given the support they need.

In a conference call with Cosmopolitan, USC graduate, Esche Jackson, says she ran away several times to escape abuse in her home.

“No one asked me why I was running or tried to save me from what I was running from,” she said.

The statistics show the younger a girl’s age after entering the juvenile justice system, the more likely she is sexually assaulted or seriously injured.

60 percent of girls in California’s jails have been raped or were in danger of being raped at some point in their lives.

Another 81 percent of delinquent girls in South Carolina reported history of sexual violence with 69 percent experiencing violence by their caregiver and 42 percent having gone through dating violence, and 93 percent of girls incarcerated in Oregon have been physically or sexually abused.

Even more starling—and not entirely shocking– the “sexual abuse to prison pipeline” affects girls of color more than any other population.

While girls of color make up 45 percent of the general youth population, they account for two-thirds of girls who are in jail now.

“This is an issue of poverty and race discrimination, disproportionately affecting girls of color and who are from low-wage households,” says Teresa Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation.

Much of our national and political attention has been focused on young boys of color who are incarcerated at higher rates than girls, but girls are the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice system population and their needs are being largely ignored.

The report offers solutions including strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, a federal law that sets standards for the juvenile justice system.

The law is up for reauthorization for the first time since 2002, and by adding gender-specific and trauma-informed services, this could aid in getting abused girls help instead of throwing them away.

Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.