There is a problem with the child welfare system. Children are directed to the child welfare system in hopes of providing them with better outcomes by healing and rehabilitating them from physical injuries or trauma. But for some reason, these children are the same ones that end up in the juvenile justice system. There is an apparent disconnect in the objective and what is actually happening that allowed the concept of the Abuse to Prison Pipeline to be conceived.
Cherice Hopkins is back on Justice Clearinghouse as this course’s instructor. Cherice is the Staff Attorney at Rights4Girls – an organization committed to ending gender-based violence. In her role, Cherice works on policy analysis, research, reform, strategic planning, and education with a mission to identify and address the issues that prevent gender and racial equality.
In this session, Cherice discusses the intricacies of the Abuse to Prison Pipeline – the statistics, stories, pathways, and outcomes. Specifics she deep-dived into are:
- An overview of the Abuse to Prison Pipeline, and the report from which the findings on this presentation were taken from.
- How the justice system was created without considering girls’ needs and the increase of girls in the system that created problems within the framework.
- The importance of considering gender and race to fully understand the dynamics of the issue.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) that result in long-term physical, emotional and mental health consequences.
- Common ways that girls cope with the trauma they experience from abuse.
- The four pathways into the juvenile justice system that girls fall into.
- Behavior that the girls demonstrate as a way to cope with trauma but are seen by the justice system as status offenses.
- Being in the child welfare system that wasn’t able to appropriately address trauma which then drives the girls to crossover to delinquency.
- Exposure to violence in the household where the girls are being arrested for merely defending themselves or their loved ones from abuse.
- Being entangled in domestic child sex trafficking and ending up arrested for prostitution or other offenses when they’re the victims of sexual exploitation.
- Understanding the core of domestic child sex trafficking, its nuances, and its link to foster care and child welfare involvement.
- The terrible reality of the criminalization of youth, the system’s inability to see them as victims, how it aggravates existing trauma, and negatively impacts their future.
- How myths about girls of color, lack of data, and rape culture fuel the Abuse to Prison Pipeline.
- Statistics were presented emphasizing:
- The increase of girls in the system.
- How justice-involved girls tend to have negative health outcomes.
- The percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system who experienced physical and sexual abuse.
- The likelihood of crossing over from child welfare to juvenile justice and the overrepresentation of girls of color in this segment.
- The profile of DCST survivors – their nationality, age, race and background – and the sex buyers.
- Legislations that seek to protect children and youth through better response, funding, and education on the issue.
- Recommendations to overcome the pipeline through awareness and education, prevention and intervention, and collaboration among concerned entities to come up with better solutions.
- During the Q&A, the webinar audience asked for clarifications on:
- Acronyms for legislation and organizations discussed.
- The concept of trauma bond that may become cyclical in abuse and trafficking cases driving recidivism.
- Information about JJPDA grants.
- Statutory rape, abuse and other negative outcomes of child marriage.
Resources Mentioned in the Webinar: The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story
- “This was one of the best human trafficking/juvenile jus. webinars I have heard in awhile! I have been working with anti-HT efforts for four years now and I loved how this was presented. I really enjoyed how minority girls were the focus. A lot of trainings like to emphasize that HT can happen to any young girl BUT studies show the majority of these young girls are black or Hispanic. Also loved how verbiage is very important.” — Candice
- “The explanation of the term Trauma Bonded was very beneficial.” — Andrea
- “I appreciated the focus on child sex trafficking and how it intersects with the imprisonment of our girls – this dichotomy of criminal vs victim/survivor is complex but an important conversation to continuously have.” — Camille
- “Her definition of sex trafficking included children having sex for basic needs and other items was eye-opening for me. I appreciate the time you take to make available these great trainings.” — Karyn
- “A lot of excellent information.” — Robert