Rep. Christina Hale revives proposal to seek solutions to teen sexual assault

February 12, 2014 Christina Hale

For immediate release:
Feb. 12, 2014

Members of the Indiana House Courts & Criminal Code Committee today unanimously approved an amendment offered by Hale and State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) that would require the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to study crimes of sexual violence against children in addition to the impact of social media and technology in these crimes.

Hale’s amendment also requires the State Department of Health or the Office of Women’s Health to conduct a study in order to determine the number of people who are victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as why these crimes are underreported.

The study will also investigate the best practices to improve reporting and the most effective means to connect victims with the appropriate treatment services.

Hale said the proposal will enable the state to respond to staggering national statistics that reveal 1 out of every 6 girls in Indiana has been sexually assaulted or raped, while not even taking into account the fact that up to 50 percent of all sexual assaults are never reported.

“These appalling numbers indicate that our state’s most vulnerable populations are clearly not safe,” said Hale. “We cannot let this situation go on for any longer.

“I believe there is no more urgent problem in our state at this time,” she continued. “In order for us to address this distressing issue, we first need to find out where these crimes are taking place, and work as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“It is a problem with constantly evolving circumstances, especially with the new challenges social media, cell phones and emerging technology pose to our young people,” she said.

Senate Bill 227, authored by Merritt, also protects individuals from prosecution for alcohol offenses if the arrest is due to the person being a victim of sexual assault.

“I am grateful that Senator Merritt has been willing to collaborate on this amendment and I am appreciative of his support as we move forward to protect all Hoosiers,” said Hale.

The amended bill now moves to the House floor for further action.