Commission on Sex in Prisons: Healthy sexual development of children in prison

The Commission on Sex in Prison released the fourth report in their series on sex in prison earlier this week. The majority of children in custody are adolescent boys aged 15 to 17. They are likely to have reached physical sexual maturity and may be sexually active. They have not yet reached cognitive, emotional and social maturity. Children in custody are vulnerable and most will have experienced disadvantage. Some will have been sexually abused prior to custody. Prison severely restricts children’s opportunities to form normal healthy relationships and can damage or delay the maturation process. LGBT children are more isolated in prison and more vulnerable to bullying or abuse by other children or by staff. Sexual abuse by other children or by staff does happen in prison. Children in prison should have access to sexual health services. The high levels of violence in prison might be a risk factor for the development of sexual aggression among boys. The needs of vulnerable children with complex needs cannot be met in large prisons with low staff to child ratios.