Ind. lawmakers look at high teen sexual assault rate
Hale hopes for research to form plan
Last Updated: 43 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A panel of Indiana lawmakers is set to examine the state's high rate of teen sexual assaults amid a call for better protections for children.
Indiana is the second worst state in the country for rape and sexual assault against high school age girls, according to federal statistics. More than 17 percent of those girls here have been victims, nearly twice the national average. Advocates believe the situation is much worse, because so many victims don't report the crime.
Malea Crosby is a rape survivor who now counsels victims at a treatment facility. She says she didn't report the rape because she thought she would be blamed because of the way it started out with an innocent make-out session in the front seat of a car.
"It kinda leads to the, you know, the self-blame, the self-doubt. Why did I put myself in that situation that's so often confirmed by society. So I was asked to get in the back seat. And at that point I was fine with what was going to happen. At the moment that he began to have sex with me, I remember screaming, 'No! Please stop!'" Crosby said.
Crosby says after dealing with a mother in denial about the rape and an ER doctor who didn't seem interested, she just shut up.
Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, said that could be why statistics are unreliable. She said a better effort must be made to find out the depth of the real problem.
"It's clear there couldn't be a more urgent problem in our state. But to effectively address this issue, it's incumbent upon us to find out why this is happening. Is it a rural problem? Is it an urban problem? Is it a problem of families and schools? Is it youth-on-youth violence? Is it a combination of these things?" Hale said.
Roberta Hibbert, a pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children, agreed and said victims often don't realize what happened to them was an assault.
"They often feel blamed. They feel responsible. If they do tell someone, they're not going to be believed. They're going to be humiliated, because everybody else in their school or in their community is going to know," Hibbert said.
Although Hale would like the state to do something to reverse the trend as soon as possible, she realizes that such an attempt is unlikely to be successful without more research into just what is causing all the assaults.
She said she hopes the legislature will spend some money to conduct the research and come up with a plan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 17.3 percent of Indiana girls between grades 9 and 12 have reported being raped. That's compared to a national average of 10.5 percent.
Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.