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Ohio sees increase in reports of sexual assault among minors

Taylr Ucker-Lauderman with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence says young people are finding more resources that allow them to report abuse.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Across Ohio, more teens and pre-teens are coming forward about sexual assault.

"It could be because of an actual increase, it could be because of more access in school, but we're also seeing kids having more access to technology and finding out how to report and where and actually do that reporting," Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Chief of Communications Taylr Ucker-Lauderman said.

But for those 18 and up, reporting has actually decreased.

"With the general under-reporting we usually see, it's one-third or one-fourth of what we think is the reality," Ucker-Lauderman said.

In the Toledo area, there was a 58% decline in hospital calls for sexual assault forensic exams from 2019 to 2021 at the YWCA.

But, the question is: why? 

It's not easy to pinpoint exactly one reason. But, Ucker-Lauderman says victim-blaming is a big part of the problem.

"Victims and survivors often feel ashamed, not because they feel ashamed, but other people are making them feel that way, other people will blame them we definitely have a victim blaming culture," Ucker-Lauderman said.

She said that sexual assault continues to be one of the most underreported crimes.

"Crime is still occurring, it's just that people aren't being served in the ways they need. So, we need for folks to listen to survivors, listen to their actual needs, believe them, make it where we can have these transparent conversations," Ucker-Lauderman said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, here are some resources that can help:

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