Every year, there are more than 207,000 victims of sexual assault. Nearly half of them are under 18.
A 24 year-old Jasper, MN, man Justin Steenstra is behind bars Wednesday night in Sioux Falls with charges of rape involving two young girls. Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office believes there are more victims out there.
That's why many parents are preparing for difficult discussions, but the question is, where do we start?
Sexual assault can happen anywhere - whether it's reported or not - and, according to Minnehaha County authorities, it's happening in Brandon, SD.
"It's scary because we're a little naive in Brandon. We have all the luxuries of being close to a city however we're buffered and close-knit and feel safe so it's very much a shock," Kara Williams said.
Kara Williams runs New Day Counseling Services in Brandon and works with a variety of families and children, including victims of sexual abuse.
"It's sad, but unfortunately it's typical that a great deal of what's happening is under the surface and sometimes it takes kids, or any victim, what's happened to them feel comfortable and brave enough to deal with it," Williams said.
She says those who are dealing with it are often younger than sixteen.
"Unfortunately, they can get bored and they become vulnerable to predators and it doesn't occur to us, sadly, to warn our kids that there are bad people in this world and these are things you need to worry about," Williams said.
What you should worry about is a change in behavior. Williams says that can be a big red flag. If you notice a change in demeanor and plan to have a chat, she says, whatever you do, be gentle.
"Try not to be too leading but above all make sure they feel safe in sharing whatever it is with them," she said.
Another great resource for parents is the South Dakota Sex Offender Registry which can be found here: http://sor.sd.gov/
Thursday, February 20 2014 7:42 PM EST2014-02-21 00:42:09 GMT
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