Sheriff: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
The month of April is designated as an awareness month for various topics. Last week, I wrote about the Underage Alcohol Awareness Initiative “Parents Who Host,” and this month also brings awareness to Public Safety Telecommunicators, which is an important topic which I will discuss further next week.
This week, however, I would like to highlight another April awareness month topic: Sexual Assault Awareness.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have not been affected by a sexual assault need to recognize and be sensitive to the fact that sexual assault has affected many in our community and we can each each play a part in the prevention and reporting of these tragic and devastating events.
One of the most effective things we can each do in our own way is to prevent these types of incidents though diligence in screening those who have contact with our children.
It is reported that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. In 90 percent of these cases, the perpetrator is known to the victims. This is in stark contrast to the common myth that sexual assaults are perpetrated by random strangers or roaming perpetrators.
As family members or guardians, we can make a real difference in this statistic by paying close attention to those who have contact with our children both in the form of peers as well as adults who may be volunteering in various capacities.
As a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader, I am comforted by the fact that I even in my capacity I must pass an annual screening and undergo online training to verify that I have been instructed in the latest practices and policies which guarantee a safe environment for our children. Even in our schools, those of us parents who wish to volunteer must undergo background checks and screenings.
While these are all great measures taken to create a safe environment, it is not fail-safe, and we must not be complacent when it comes to our children and those who are interacting with them. We must always remain attuned to possible signs that someone we love is struggling in an unsafe environment.
Some of the signs which may be displayed include anxiety or depression, change in eating habits, or change of moods. Another sign is that they may become withdrawn or rebellious.
If your loved one does open up to you regarding an assault, it is important to listen and provide a safe and supportive environment for them. It is important to note that law enforcement have taken great efforts to send many of our officers to special training regarding the interviewing of sexual assault victims so that they are able to find closure to these tragic events, and we can take measures to hold the perpetrators accountable.
One of the most valuable resources we have in these types of incidents is our own Kewaunee County Violence Intervention Project. If you or a loved one have been affected by sexual assault, please reach out to them at 920-487-2111.
Matt Joski is sheriff of Kewaunee County.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Sheriff: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month