Incarcerated Minors and Their Health: The Lack of Data and the Risk of Institutional Stigmatization.
In order to answer this question, we decided to realize a qualitative study, based on in-depth interviews with 72 youths incarcerated in 5 French prisons. We assumed that this question was best addressed qualitatively, because of the lack of knowledge about the health and sexual issues in this population, and because of the characteristics of this youths, often dropouts, and not very familiar with the exercise of the questionnaire which could be seen as a police interrogation.
Indeed, the only studies about youths and sexuality were conduct on youths in school, whereas the young we study are often dropouts from school before their entry into sexuality. Then, the design of our study reveals the need of data collected qualitatively on such vulnerable populations. This choice could also be problematic, because it supposes that the population we are studying is “specific”, in a context where these youths are sometimes considered as “deviants”. Our results suggest that these youths are relatively similar to others, referring to their sexual behavior, knowledge and representations, though their living conditions impact in some ways their entry into sexuality.
In this paper, we propose to deal with the restitution of the sociological knowledge produced about invisible youth populations, to official institutions which tend to stigmatize them as “specific” or deviant “population”. Finally, our study highlights the need of rhetoric precautions in order to account the complexity of their situation and to avoid miscalculated judgments about them.