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Report Sexual Abuse As Soon As Possible, Police Officer Says



(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series on sexual assault. This week, we discuss the reporting of a sexual assault.)

In the classic movie scenario of a sexual assault, it’s very easy to determine when to call the police.

If the stereotypically greasy-haired man abducts a woman and rapes her, she goes to the police immediately after she gets free.

A.J. Schroeder, an Archbold police patrolman, agrees with that part– a sexual assault victim should report an assault “generally, as soon as possible.

“I would say best case scenario for the investigation– immediately following the assault.

“But, that doesn’t necessarily happen. There are 60% of sexual assaults that are unreported. Forty percent are reported, and a majority of those are reported days, or weeks, or months, or years after the incident has occurred,” he said.

A victim doesn’t have to go to the police station.

“They can go to a hospital,” Schroeder said. “They actually have sexual assault teams that come in. They have a kit where they can collect possifor (Continued from first page) ble evidence and contact advocates or counselors– do everything but involve the police.

“Those kits would be maintained for a lifetime. Right now, they’re developing new laws and standards for that.

“Even 10 years down the road, if the victim decides they wanted to be able to deal with it, if they wanted to come in and discuss it, the evidence would still be there, and we could obtain that evidence and utilize that for the case.”

If a sexual assault victim doesn’t want to talk to police, they can contact the Family Justice Center and talk with the victim advocates.

“They don’t have to make a police report or talk to a police officer, but the most important thing is going to talk to somebody about it, or going to the hospital as soon as possible.”

Children

In the sexual abuse of children, perpetrators have often instilled in children a fear of telling adults about the assault, or have found ways to discredit a child’s complaints.

How can parents know if their child is being abused?

“It’s difficult, other than knowing that every parent would know their children and know their child’s personality,” Schroeder said.

“Certainly, if you would see any drastic change in a child’s personality, parents should be questioning why, and seeing if they can figure out what triggers the change.”

She Said, He Said

There are some who may say a victim’s complaints of sexual assault are false, merely a way at getting back at a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Schroeder said statistics indicate that 3% to 6% of sexual assault reports were deemed to be false.

“The FBI and some other research said two to eight percent. That three-to-six percent falls right in there, which is incredibly low,” Schroeder said.

When confronted by the police, the perpetrator may try to lie his way out of prosecution. Whose job is it to determine who’s telling the truth?

“It’s our job to sort out what’s fact and what’s fiction,” he said.

“We work together with prosecutors. A lot of times, we’ll take in a case and say, ‘this is what I’ve got,’ and he’ll say, ‘I need more, and this is what I need.’

“Then it’s our job to go and retrieve it, or dig it up.”

That is, if the evidence exists.

Schroeder said sometimes it takes going back and forth between the victim and the alleged perpetrator several times.

“Sometimes, it’s very clear. Sometimes, situations or people make it a little more difficult on us.”

If a case becomes difficult, that doesn’t mean investigators give up.

“Never,” Schroeder said.

——

Public school children first said the Pledge of Allegiance and saluted the flag during the National School celebration held in 1892. The words “under God” were not added until 1954.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination you should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:
* Has difficulty walking or sitting
* Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate
in physical activities
* Reports nightmares or bedwetting
* Experiences a sudden change in appetite
* Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual
sexual knowledge or behavior
* Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease,
particularly if under age 14
* Runs away
* Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult
caregiver

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent
or other adult caregiver:
* Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits
the child’s contact with other children, especially of
the opposite sex
* Is secretive and isolated
* Is jealous or controlling with family members

Information provided by Child Welfare Information Gateway, www.childwelfare.gov/can/types/sexualabuse/signs.cfm. This information was adapted, with permission, from Recognizing Child Abuse: What Parents Should Know. Prevent Child Abuse America. ©2003.



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