The way that the US government strips migrant children away from their parents and keeps them in freezing cages for long periods without allowing them to reunite is bad enough. Two children died while in custody. Now comes another report that says that thousands of these children have also been subjected to sexual abuse while in custody.
Almost 5,000 complaints of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in US custody have been filed over the past four years, according to government documents released this week. The allegations range from adult staff members having relationships with minors, and the showing of pornographic videos, to forcible touching.
According to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documentsreleased on Tuesday on Capitol Hill by the Florida Democratic representative Ted Deutch’s office, the reports date back to October 2015, during the Obama administration. However, most of the sexual abuse and harassment reported occurred since Donald Trump took office.
“These documents tell us that there is a problem with adults, employees of HHS, sexually abusing children,” Deutch said at the hearing.
The total number of sexual abuse complaints in 2018 was 1,261, an increase of 192 compared with 2017. While the majority of the sexual assaults were allegedly committed by other minors in custody, 178 out of the thousands of complaints filed were accusations against staff. The number of reported sexual abuse incidents involving staff against migrant children increased in 2018, with a total of 12 complaints filed in July compared with four in February.
Whenever adults are given unchecked power over children, especially those who are not their own, abuse will happen, as we have seen repeatedly with the Catholic church. When you keep young people of varying ages together in cages without sufficient concern about their well-being so as to monitor them to prevent harm coming to them, abuses will happen.
This is a horrendous systemic failure that the government should be utterly ashamed of. But of course they are not. They do not give a damn about poor children of color.