April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

file000388004075Officials say every 98 seconds someone in the United States is sexual assaulted. April is national sexual assault prevention month.

Angie Linsenman is the Counseling Program Director for the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan. She says historically numbers have remained consistent. One in five women will be raped at some point in their life.

Sexual assault and violent crimes are very challenging because they are very under reported. So we can only imaging that these numbers are much higher.

Linsenman says social media is an effective tool for combating violence.

Sexual assaults are not the only crimes that go under-reported.

April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. State officials are using the month to bring awareness to that issue.

Megan Hawthorne is deputy press secretary for attorney general Bill Schuette.

“You know it does happen everyday unfortunately and a lot of times children can’t speak for themselves or don’t know how to speak for themselves cause often this abuse is happening at home. So it’s just a way to remind people of what to look for and if you see something say something.”

Hawthorne says signs of neglect include unattended medical needs, inappropriate dress, and regular signs of hunger.

Signs of abuse include bruises, being uncomfortable with physical contact, depression, aggressiveness, and wearing unusual clothing in the summer to hide potential marks.

A full list of signs of neglect or abuse in children is below.

Physical Neglect – Physical Indicators: Unattended medical needs, lack of supervision, regular signs of hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene, distended stomach, emaciated, significant weight change.

Physical Neglect – Behavioral Indicators: Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class, steals/hoards food, begs from classmates, reports that no caretaker is at home.

Physical Abuse – Physical Indicators: Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing), welts, loop marks, adult/human bite marks, bald spots or missing clumps of hair, unexplained burns/scalds, unexplained fractures, skin lacerations/punctures or abrasions, swollen lips/chipped teeth, linear/parallel marks on cheeks and temple area, crescent-shaped bruising, puncture wounds, bruising behind the ears.

Physical Abuse – Behavioral Indicators: Self-destructive/self-mutilation, withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes, uncomfortable/skittish with physical contact, arrives at school late or stays late as if afraid to be at home, chronic runaway (adolescents), complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably, wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body, lack of impulse control (e.g. inappropriate outbursts).

Sexual Abuse – Physical indicators: Pain or itching in genital area, bruises or bleeding in genital area, sexually transmitted disease, frequent urinary or yeast infections, extreme or sudden weight change, pregnancy under 12 years of age.

Sexual Abuse – Behavioral Indicators: Withdrawal, chronic depression, sexual behaviors or references that are unusual for the child’s age, seductive or promiscuous behavior, poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence, suicide attempts (especially adolescents), hysteria, lack of emotional control.