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AU Professor Testifies On Sex Abuse

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By Peter Granitz

Some advocates are calling on Congress to work to ensure the safety of incarcerated youth, after two reports showing young people locked in juvenile and adult facilities are at high risk for sexual abuse.

An American University law professor testified before a House panel about sexual abuse at the Oak Hill Youth Center, D.C.'s juvenile detention facility that closed last year.

Eleven percent of the juveniles who stayed at Oak Hill reported some form of sexual abuse. Professor Brenda Smith, who is also a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, says that number could actually be significantly higher because kids do not always report every incident.

Smith says she's been reaching out to District leaders to create an outreach program that would teach children about prison sexual abuse.

"It's been very difficult to pin them down in order to get them to commit to working on this particular issue because they have so many other things going on. But I think it's critical that it happen in juvenile detention facilities, but I also think it's critical that it happen in public schools as well," says Smith.

Smith urged the congressional panel to enact the commission's standards on detecting or preventing abuse.

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