E. Texas advocates encourage children to speak up about sexual assault

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In Angelina County, Sheriff Greg Sanches said their department sees about eight reports of sexual assaults a month.

But according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement.

"Nobody needs to be violated; it's wrong, and people live with that through the rest of their lives," said Sanches.

And local child advocates say children are affected just as much.

"They think they don't need to give you as much support of as many resources because they see that the numbers are going down when in actuality the numbers are being under-reported," said Laura Squiers, Harold's House Executive Director.

Just this month these two men were arrested for sexual assault of a minor.

Nicholas Odom is accused of molesting a 14-year-old and getting her pregnant.

William Taylor is being held in jail for the sexual assault of a 6-year-old.

"The victim's afraid to report. We know that 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach age 18," said Squiers.

Harold's House officials say that 99 percent of the kids they saw last year were attacked by people they know, which is why it's a struggle for many children to come forward about abuse.

"They don't want to put the child through the investigation process and they're thinking to themselves what if I'm wrong, when the real question is what if I'm right," said Squiers.

Harold's House Executive Director Laura Squiers says it's up to parents to educate their children and help them find the courage to speak out if they are ever the victim.

"Talk to your children about what is appropriate behavior between an adult and child," Squiers said.

Advocates say we all play a role in preventing sexual assaults in Texas mandated reporting laws requires adults to report any suspected abuse.

Studies show that in the past two years, there has been an increase in attention on sexual assault, which may affect the number of incidents reported.

Harold's House Executive Director Laura Squiers says they host prevention trainings throughout the year for more information visit http://www.haroldshouse.org/Home_Page.php

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