(WMC-TV) - The state of Tennessee promises action after hearing shocking new statistics regarding sexual assault in youth detention centers. A survey reported Tennessee juvenile correction facilities have higher rates of sexual victimization among inmates than the national average.
A Somerville center that holds a place at the top of list sits on a large pastoral property – but the peace, for many, may be limited to outside.
According to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice, John S. Wilder Youth Development Center had the highest rate of reported sexual victimization.
The survey sets the Wilder center at the top of the list among four such facilities surveyed in Tennessee.
A lady we will call "Jane" has a 14-year-old loved one at the center serving time for carjacking.
"See, that's just sad, they really need to look into that," said Jane. "It's enough they're going through the trouble they're going through – but then worried with somebody touching them and hurting them ... It's not right."
Some 8,700 youth in 326 facilities responded to the sexual victimization part in the survey.
The average in Tennessee is 13 percent. The Wilder center is at 19.5 percent.
"Any incident of victimization is one too many," said Department of Child Services spokesperson Rob Johnson.
DCS has no reason to doubt the survey results and claims it is committed to making changes as it did at a facility near Nashville singled out several years ago.
"The staff took it personally, and they acted with a lot of conviction and seriousness to do what they could to decrease these levels," said Johnson.
And while they may have committed crimes, parents like "Jane" believe juvenile inmates deserve protection.
"Because they are still our kids," said Jane.
Assessing the vulnerability of each inmate is among the measures the state will implement along with heightened education, awareness, and training.