Harrisburg forming task force to prevent sexual assault

Written by Craig Layne, Morning Edition Host/Reporter | Dec 7, 2012 1:39 PM
sexual assault task force.jpg

L to R: Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program Executive Director Jennifer Storm, and YWCA of Greater Harrisburg CEO Tina Nixon address reporters.

(Harrisburg) -- Police in the capital city are working with social advocacy groups in an effort to raise awareness about sexual assaults occurring in the community.

The move to create a sexual assault task force has been sparked by recent incidents in Harrisburg, like a sexual assault against a HACC student on Monday.

It’s made up of police, prosecutors, and members of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program and the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg -- all in cooperation with HACC.

YWCA CEO Tina Nixon is directing the group.

She says educating potential witnesses will go a long way in cutting down on crime, especially sexual assault.

“Standing by is no longer acceptable," Nixon says. "If you see something going on in your community, you must act. We are talking about our children, our future. This impacts our whole community. Our silence enables perpetrators to get away with it.”

Nixon says the task force will focus on educational campaigns and workshops that include information on how to better protect people from sexual violence.

Dauphin County Victim/Wintess Assistance Program Executive Director Jennifer Storm says a public information campaign is needed.

“I wish we lived in a society where we focused more on teaching people not to rape, as opposed to teaching women and young people how not to get raped," Storm says. "Unfortunately, the statistics are one in four of females and one in six males who are victims of sexual violence before the age of 18. With those types of statistics, we have to be vigilant about our prevention.”

The YWCA provides a 24-hour hotline for victims of sexual assault.  The number is 1-800-654-1211. The organization also sends crisis advocates to victims and their families for counseling or assistance with police or in the courts.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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