Reimagining the Youth Legal System

The Challenge

According to the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, 63,000 children are sexually abused each year in the United States. One in 9 girls and 1 in fifty-three boys under the age of eighteen experiences sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. Children who are survivors of sexual assault are four times as likely to experience addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder and three times as likely to experience a major depressive episode. Research demonstrates that children who have been victimized experience feelings of danger triggered by their abusers and sometimes resort to acts of violence as a result. However, the law does not always recognize this reality under the theory of self-defense. Many child survivors of abuse or trafficking are not in danger of “imminent harm” (under the legal definition) when they commit crimes against their abusers.

Human Rights for Kids, alongside survivors of child abuse and trafficking, works to ensure that children who commit offenses against their abusers are also seen as victims by the legal system and held accountable in a trauma-informed and age-appropriate manner.

The Project

As a Stoneleigh Foundation grantee, Human Rights for Kids will partner closely with survivors of child sex crimes and other forms of victimization to educate policymakers, while providing training, mentorship, and compensation to support their work.

This grant will enable Human Rights for Kids to:

  • Create a fellowship program to support those with lived experience who want to become professional advocates for justice reform.
  • Establish a supportive network for currently and formerly incarcerated child sex crime survivors who have been punished for committing an offense against their abusers.
  • Name Sara Kruzan as an inaugural Stoneleigh Fellow, so she can educate policymakers and other key stakeholders and help build a network of survivor-advocates in Philadelphia and nationally.

Human Rights for Kids

Stoneleigh Fellow

2022 – 2025

Human Rights for Kids


Project Updates