Shedding light on sexual assault

Itís no secret that the United States is currently experiencing a steep economic decline, and with many experts saying that recessions often lead to an increase in violent crimes, the difficult times may get worse before they get better.

This month, Catholic Charities of Chenango County is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness month in an effort to shed some light on a topic that many consider taboo and to get people to talk openly about the issues surrounding sexual assault.

Itís not a pleasant topic, and while many wish they could just pretend it does not exist, the statistics on sexual assault are too frightening to ignore. In the United States, one in six women will be the victim of an attempted or successful sexual assault. Those statistics prove that this is not an issue that can be swept under the rug and ignored.

It seems impossible to think that in this day and age, crimes like this are still so prevalent. Our country and the world has evolved so much. Weíre able to send rockets into outer space. We have the ability to clone living organisms, to cure diseases that could have wiped out a population years ago, but even with all of these advancements, we havenít progressed past the point of violence and abuse.

Even more astounding to me is the rate of violent crimes against children. After attending Catholic Charities Celebration of Women last Thursday, I learned that 14 percent of all sexual assaults are committed against children under the age of six. To most of us, that seems unbelievable, but reading or watching the news on a regular basis proves those statistics are true. Despite how ugly and harsh that reality is, itís one that canít be ignored.

I donít know how issues like these should be addressed. I donít know what individuals can do to help prevent these things from occurring or to decrease those numbers, but I have to hope that there is a way. Maybe the simplest solution, is exactly what Catholic Charities is attempting to do this month: to make people aware.

Knowing that there is a possibility that something may occur doesnít prevent it from happening. We canít live in constant fear, wondering what might be lurking around every corner, but we can know the facts and keep those things in mind to keep ourselves safer.

Talking about rape, sexual assault and child abuse isnít fun, but it is a topic that few people are likely to forget. Take the opportunity to learn about these crimes, and maybe that knowledge will help keep someone safe.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Catholic Charities will hold their second annual Take Back the Night rally at Morrisville Stateís Norwich Campus. The event will be an opportunity to learn how to prevent crimes against women, but it will also give the public an opportunity to show their support for the victims of those crimes. Together, as a community, we can show that sexual violence will not be tolerated.

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