Classroom time for youth in Victoria's detention centres is being "wasted" because of security fears, a new report says.
More also needs to be done to ensure girls, young woman and Indigenous detainees have equal access to education behind bars, the study led by Victoria University found.
"Time in youth custody should be seen as an opportunity to reboot futures and reassemble young lives," the report on Friday said.
"At present, however, a significant amount of learning time is wasted in youth custody because security concerns override those of education."
The report's authors said education was a "circuit breaker" for people in the youth justice system.
While many children in detention had been suspended or expelled from school, most wanted to learn and said it was vital to getting them through their time in custody.
The report acknowledged the justice department was implementing changes, including making sure girls' access to education wasn't hampered by security measures.