To make matters worse those are just the reported crimes. In most jurisdictions in western society, fewer than half child sex crimes are reported. If that is the case in these two counties then you are looking at more like 1 in 2.5 girls and one in 5 boys being molested.
Neither does this account for repeated abuse of a child. Roughly 80% of sexually abused children are repeatedly sexually abused. Are you throwing up yet? Please pray!!!
By Bradford Arick
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA (Valley News Live): It’s a statistic that’s hard to stomach: officials in the FM area (Fargo - Moorhead?) report more than 500 cases of child sexual abuse have been dealt with over the last year or so. And the Coalition to End Child Sexual Abuse in Cass and Clay Counties wants to make sure parents, teachers and adults recognize the signs. Do you know what to look for?
Conditions that support abuse. Common tactics of high risk abusers. Interviews with offenders and pedophiles. It’s all in an effort to educate.
"Nine months ago leaders from Cass and Clay County came together to figure out how they could address the issue of child sexual abuse. And the concern was that it was becoming very prevalent," Jetta Bernier, a national expert in preventing sexual abuse.
The Red River Children’s Advocacy Center estimates 1-in-10 children in the two-county area will be a sexual abuse victim by the time they turn 18. This two-day training is working to put a stop to it.
“And one of the key issues is how do we educate parents, other concerned adults, professionals and kids about sexual abuse and how to prevent it from ever occurring,” explained Bernier.
That’s where Jetta Bernier and her CDC funded model come in: The Enough Abuse Campaign.
“You know kids are exposed to a whole lot of things. So we're really not doing our kids any favor by trying to protect them from this kind of information,” she said.
She adds through putting the campaign together, she found that growing up, adults say their families never really talked about these issues. Its things like establishing privacy boundaries within your family, what’s appropriate touching and what’s not, and how parents need to be tuned in to red flags for potential abuse.
"And that's so why they are targeted by these manipulative, cunning individuals who know that they have an easy target,” Bernier said.
Part of this too is law enforcement.
“Six arrests in Moorhead and 12 arrests in Fargo for people coming to have sex with children is sickening, appalling and disgusting,” described Fargo Police Chief David Todd at a press conference on June 30th.
It wasn’t that long ago we were coming to grips with 18 people arrested in a two day sting. While Bernier said the trafficking of children for sex is part of this too, the Coalition is looking at every aspect of child sexual abuse to end it. The idea is to train 30 or so people from a variety of organizations who can then take the information back and educate others.
Valley News Live reached out to the Human Trafficking Navigator for Eastern North Dakota through Youth Works, Melissa Williams. We asked are we hearing more about child sex issues because it’s happening more or because we are better equipped to recognize it. She said while it’s not something new to the area, we are recognizing the signs better. She adds trafficking crimes are still vastly under reported.
Williams continues that trafficking of people of any age is sex abuse and is a crime. She says there is a high correlation between youth that were sexually abused and those that are trafficked. And a history of sex abuse is a red flag for this. She says her data shows the highest number of victims trafficked are from Fargo. Also, she adds backpage.com has the highest number of ads posted in Fargo throughout the state in their escort section.