Events promoting child abuse and sexual assault awareness in RWArea News
-- Last year, Red Wing’s Sexual Assault Resource Agency assisted 98 people, including 23 children, who had been sexually abused.
By: Sarah Gorvin, Pierce County Herald
Last year, Red Wing’s Sexual Assault Resource Agency assisted 98 people, including 23 children, who had been sexually abused.
“We’ve definitely noticed an increase (in the last few years),” said Katherine Cross of SARA. “I think that there’s more reporting.”
But even with that increase, many sexual assaults are still not being made known. Nationally, only about 16 percent of assaults are reported. In rural areas, that number can dip lower, Cross said.
“Victims don’t know if they’re going to be believed,” she said. “(Or) they fear someone’s going to know.”
Megan Conway of the Hope Coalition said the same thing can happen in cases of child abuse. While the Hope Coalition assisted 192 children last year, Conway said there may have been more victims.
“A lot of people are scared to speak up (if they see abuse),” she said. “They don’t want to interfere with parenting, and they don’t want to cause conflict.”
For that reason, SARA and the Hope Coalition have teamed up to offer a variety of events to promote sexual and child abuse awareness in Goodhue County throughout the month of April.
During the first week of April, Conway and Cross will be visiting law enforcement agencies across the county and working with local children to tie blue ribbons, representing child abuse awareness, and teal ribbons, representing sexual abuse awareness, on squad cars.
On Tuesday morning, the pair brought a group of children from the Hope Coalition’s Kids Count program to the Goodhue County Law Enforcement Center in Red Wing. Police Chief Tim Sletten and Sheriff Scott McNurlin helped the kids knot the ribbons around the cars’ antennae.
While part of the project is simply to raise awareness in the community, Conway said the positive interaction with officers may help the children overcome fears. She added that many children’s only interaction with police is when their parents are being arrested.
“Many are afraid and see (law enforcement) only in a bad light,” Conway said. “They only look at them as bad people taking away their loved ones.”
Brown bag seminar
A brown bag lunch seminar will bring together a panel to discuss child abuse and sexual assault in the community. Representatives from Youth Outreach, the Chemical Health Initiative, Colvill Family Center, Child Protective Services and Fairview Red Wing Medical Center will discuss how to prevent abuse and ideas for creating a safe community.
“What we’re hoping for is that it’s very interactive and informal,” Conway said.
Anyone is welcome to bring a lunch and attend the free event April 13 in the Red Wing Public Library Community Room. The discussion begins at 11:30 a.m. and is expected to last about an hour.
“It’s trying to involve the entire community,” Conway said. “We need help to be able to speak up.”
“It creates a bigger impact when we collaborate together,” Cross said.
For the 12th year, a candlelight vigil will be held for child abuse victims. The event will be 6:30 p.m. April 18 in Red Wing High School’s Hovda Auditorium.
“We light one candle in memory of all who have been victims or passed away from child abuse in the past year,” Conway said.
The theme for this year’s vigil is “Making a change.” The program will feature testimonies and stories from local children affected by child abuse, music and poetry recitals from Kids Count participants and a performance from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing boys’ choir.
Walk a Mile
On April 21, men will don high heels and stumble around Central Park for the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a fundraiser to help stop rape and gender violence.
“Sexual assault isn’t a very happy topic,” Cross said. “This, in a fun way, can create conversation.”
The walk starts at 9:30 a.m. To register, call 651-388-9360, ext. 15 by April 16. The cost is $25 for individuals and $150 for groups up to 10.
And ladies, you don’t have to worry about the men in your lives stealing your shoes for the event. SARA will provide high heels specially made in men’s sizes.