INDIANAPOLIS (August 20, 2015) – A new report shines a disturbing light on the numbers of child sex crimes in our state.
Indiana is statistically among the worst in the nation for sex crimes involving children, according to recent studies. But why? That’s the main question behind the latest study, issued Wednesday by the Global Health Communication Center at the IU School of Liberal Arts.
State Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, helped present those findings. The report happened to come out the same day Jared Fogle appeared in federal court, bringing new national attention to the issue of child sex crimes.
“One of the key findings was that almost always, the perpetrator is someone you trust,” said Hale. “Or with someone with a high profile like Jared, clearly that’s something that can be manipulated, to manipulate the trust of children.”
Hale said she would be working to address several related issues in the coming session of the General Assembly, including human trafficking, revenge porn, and sexual assault.
“Sixteen year old girls are not in the sex industry because they want to be there,” said Hale. “We need to shut that down, the sooner the better.”
According to studies, 1 in 6 teenage girls in Indiana will be the victim of sexual assault by the time they’re done with high school, and the latest study shows many victims are even younger.
“Incredibly troubling, we find the average of assault in Indiana of a child is nine and a half years old,” said Hale. “This is an awful problem and we have to do something.”
The Fogle case also raises questions about the age of consent in Indiana, and whether it needs to be changed.
"I think we absolutely need to look at the age of consent but there are nuances there," said Hale. "We’re not out to fight Romeo and Juliet romances but certainly there are extremely inappropriate things going on out there and the sad fact is our children are more highly sexualized than they ever have been."
"I think it's worth a look," said state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis in an interview with FOX59 IN Focus. "Kids are getting assaulted a great deal in our state."
Watch the video above to see more of our interviews with Sen. Merritt and Rep. Hale on the issues of human trafficking and child sex crimes.