Four Georgia lockups were included in a list of the 13 facilities nationwide with the highest rates of sexual victimization based on surveys on inmates.
The four Georgia facilities are a regional youth detention center in Paulding County; the Eastman Youth Development Campus in Dodge County; the Augusta YDC in Richmond County; and the Sumter YDC in Americus.
The Paulding County facility led the nation with 32.1 percent of teenagers surveyed anonymously last year reporting they were victimized sexually by staff or other juveniles. That was more than three times the national rate of 9.5 percent.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/193boRK) reported on details of the survey.
The survey results were released as Georgia tries to overhaul its juvenile justice system, which has been plagued by reports of attacks on teenage inmates and abusive behavior by staff members.
Researchers found that 15.8 percent of the 497 juveniles in Georgia's criminal justice system who were surveyed had had a sexual encounter with a staff member, which is a felony even if it is deemed consensual. Just at the four Georgia facilities cited among the worst in the nation, nearly 300 boys reported sexual abuse last year.
The Department of Juvenile Justice said in a news release that it had installed cameras and was more closely monitoring certain areas in its institutions.
The agency said it had already addressed the problem by encouraging the teenage boys and girls in its custody to participate in the surveys and to report staff who make inappropriate sexual advances.
Rick McDevitt, president of the Georgia Alliance for Children, said his own research regarding sexual and physical assaults from a few years ago was in line with the report.
"We've long said those facilities are out of control and the state does a poor job at protecting vulnerable children," McDevitt said.
The surveys were created under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which was adopted in 2003.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.