Indiana must deal with rape numbers

Kokomo Tribune

A national analysis of sexual violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 15 percent of high school-age females in Indiana reported having forced sexual intercourse in 2009.

It was the second-highest percentage in the nation and 3 percentage points higher than the rest of the country.

The Indiana Youth Institute’s annual Kids Count report shows the percentage of Indiana girls who were raped or sexually assaulted is now 14.5 percent — still the second-highest rate of forced sexual intercourse among high school girls in the nation.

And experts say the sad fact is the actual number might be even higher because up to half of sexual assaults never get reported.

The Indiana University researchers who analyzed the 2009 findings said the available data don’t explain why Indiana ranks so poorly. They say the state’s best approach, though, is to raise awareness of the issue.

The researchers recommend schools create more effective and age-appropriate programs and improve training of school staff. They also call for better ways to track, create and fund community-wide sex education programs.

None of these steps will come without cost, but surely our children are worth the expense.

The CDC says attackers in most cases are not strangers hiding in the bushes. Among female rape victims in 2012, perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners (51.1 percent), family members (12.5 percent), acquaintances (40.8 percent) and strangers (13.8 percent).

The national Sexual Violence Resource Center in Pennsylvania says 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault by the time she finishes college. The best way to lower that number, the center says, is by raising awareness and by holding the perpetrators responsible for their actions.

Sexual assault isn’t an easy subject to discuss. Most of us just aren’t comfortable bringing it up. But this statistic should be enough to spur all of us to action: According to Indiana Youth Institute’s Kids Count report, nearly 1 in 6 high school-age Hoosier girls reported being raped.

That’s a number we simply can’t tolerate.