Continuum of Coercion: Staff Sexual Misconduct in Juvenile Justice Departments, Programs and Facilities in Texas
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There have been very few studies of staff sexual misconduct in juvenile justice settings. Academic articles reference the possibility of the existence of the problem (O’Donnell, 2004). Very little is known of the extent of the problem in juvenile justice. The data utilized in this study were obtained from the Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Investigations Unit of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC). The data consist of allegations of staff sexual misconduct originating from juvenile justice departments, programs and facilities under the investigative jurisdiction of the TJPC. Utilizing the data, a continuum of seven different categories of staff sexual misconduct ranging from “sexual innuendo” to “rape” was developed. The data revealed that the highest percentage of alleged staff sexual misconduct fell under the category of “inappropriate touching”. Based on behaviors captured on the continuum, one may discern that several factors may contribute to juvenile justice professionals engaging in staff sexual misconduct. Policy and administrative rules lacking prohibitions and low percentage of criminal prosecution may facilitate rationalization in the minds of some offenders.