Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and the Prison Rape Elimination Act:
Zero-Tolerance for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law that supports the elimination, reduction, and prevention of sexual abuse in adult and juvenile facilities as well as community corrections programs.
Pursuant to PREA, the National Standards to Prevent, Detect and Respond to Prison Rape became law on August 20, 2012.
The standards apply to the facilities operated by the Denton County Juvenile Probation Department.
The Denton County Juvenile Detention Center mandates zero tolerance towards any form of conduct that meets the definition of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Residents have the right to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This includes not being subjected to sexually assaultive, abusive, and/or harassing behavior from staff, contractors, volunteers, interns and other residents.
The following definitions of abuse, neglect, and exploitation are taken from a brochure entitled “If Abuse Happens to You…End the Silence: A Teen’s Guide to Reporting Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in Juvenile Justice Facilities”.
Physical Abuse: something done to you that causes physical pain or injury to your body, often considered an assault. It may involve hitting, kicking, punching, choking, shoving or other act done by an adult or another resident against you.
Sexual Abuse: a sexual act committed against you or intentional touching in a sexual manner by another person, or another person asks you to engage in any sexual behavior.
Neglect: when a person responsible for your care fails to do so, and may involve unreasonable delay or refusal to provide medical care or failure to provide proper supervision which results in you or another resident being assaulted, hurt, or abused.
Emotional Abuse: an action by another person that may cause you extreme embarrassment, mental, or emotional harm. It may involve a person cursing at you, making crude sexual remarks or comments, or comments about your race, gender, family, or the way you look.
Exploitation: when someone in authority takes advantage of you by asking or requiring personal favors for them or someone else.
Sexual Harassment: is defined by PREA as repeated and unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal comments, gestures, or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature by one resident directed toward another; and repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature to a resident by a staff member, contractor or volunteer including demeaning references to gender, sexually-suggestive language or derogatory comments about body or clothing, or obscene language or gestures.
There are some things residents can do to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment:
- Avoid isolated or secluded areas of the facility;
- Be aware of body language and behavior;
- Never share personal information with another resident;
- Avoid sharing personal matters with a staff member who does not have a need to know them as part of their job duties;
- Never accept gifts or favors from another resident or a staff member;
- Never give gifts to or do favors for another resident or a staff member;
- Be cautious of residents and staff who attempt to be overly friendly, who repeatedly show interest in a resident's personal matters, or who want to share their personal information with a resident;
- Be cautious of residents who try to prevent a resident from interacting with staff or other residents; and
- Report all incidents of actual or attempted sexual contact, threats against another or another’s family, intimidation, or sexual conversations.
If a resident is sexually assaulted, sexually abused, sexually harassed, physically or emotionally abused, neglected or exploited by any staff or other resident(s), we encourage residents to immediately report the incident so the Facility Administrator or appropriate authority can ensure the safety of all residents. All reports of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical or emotional abuse, neglect and exploitation will be taken seriously by the facility and will be investigated.
Residents will be provided any emergency or on-going medical treatment needed as result of being the victim of sexual assault or abuse that occurs in the facility. Residents will also be provided an assessment by one of the Department’s counselors and will be provided any mental health services needed as a result of being the victim of sexual assault or abuse that occurs in the facility. These medical and mental health services will be provided at no cost to the resident or resident’s family.
Residents have the right to confidentially report (whether for themselves or for another resident) sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation to a Juvenile Supervision Officer, a counselor, a volunteer, an intern, Shift Supervisor or Shift Leader, the Therapeutic Program Coordinator, the Facility Administrator, or they may use the facility’s grievance process.
Residents may also confidentially report (whether for themselves or for another resident) sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation directly to one or both of the following outside agencies:
- Texas Juvenile Justice Department at 1-877-STOP-ANE (1 (877) 786-7263); or
- Denton County Child Advocacy Center at (972) 317-2818.
Any report of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation alleged to have occurred within the facility will be investigated to the fullest extent by the Facility Administrator or designee and will be reported to the Denton County Sheriff’s Department for possible criminal investigation and prosecution.
Texas law requires that any report of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation made to any facility staff member, volunteer, intern, or counselor must be reported to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and law enforcement or to the appropriate government agency.
The Denton County Juvenile Probation Department strictly prohibits any form of retaliation against a victim, other residents, staff members or any other person that reported or cooperated with an investigation of abuse, to include investigations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, neglect or exploitation.
Residents and other persons who report or cooperate with an investigation will be protected from and their well-being monitored for possible signs of retaliation.
Residents who believe they have been subjected to retaliation from staff or other residents are encouraged to report it to another staff member or submit a grievance. All allegations of retaliation will be investigated to the fullest extent by the Facility Administrator or designee.