By Anne-Lise Vray, Communications Associate
Today, we wear red to stand in solidarity with our young justice-involved women. March 8 marks the 2017 edition of International Women’s Day, yet another occasion to remember that girls and women in the U.S. and across the world continue to face grave disparities and dangers in many – if not all - areas of society. When it comes to the justice system, girls are among the most vulnerable groups. They are the prime victims of the sexual abuse to prison pipeline, a term used to describe the pathways of gendered violence that lead girls into the juvenile justice system. And the numbers are terrifying. Reported rates of sexual abuse are more than four times higher for girls in the system than for boys. Rights 4 Girls cites that 1000 American children are arrested each year for prostitution and that 73 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system have histories of sexual and physical abuse, while 80 percent meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Additionally, girls are twice as likely as boys to report five or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), traumatic or stressful periods during childhood that may impair the brain’s ability to function (ACES, i.e emotional, physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect, household substance abuse etc). ACES may cause children to mistrust adults, have difficulties learning and/or making friends; all of which make young people vulnerable, including over-representation in youth-serving systems such as child welfare, juvenile justice and/or mental health systems.