BISMARCK — Sexual abuse is something no one should have to experience, but it’s a problem across the globe, in the U.S. and here in North Dakota.
In fact, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said every nine minutes, investigators find evidence to file a claim of child sexual abuse.
Last year in North Dakota, the state Department of Human Services said they responded to over 1,300 reports of suspected child sexual abuse.
With the goal of creating state policy preventing child sexual abuse, the North Dakota Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse was created in 2017.
“I think the 20 people here, are talented, trained people who can really make a dent in this issue but it’s not or responsibility. It’s the responsibility of everyone in every community to join with us and say what are the strategies, how do I incorporate them and how do I deliver similar messages in other states be effective,” said Dr. Christopher Johnson, Task Force presiding officer.
During the last session, the task force was able to get House Bill 1237 passed and signed into law.
The bill asked schools across the state to provide students with information about child sexual abuse so they know what to look for and feel confident reporting something out of the ordinary.
“In our experience, tribal communities are even more rural than rural North Dakota, so that means there’s lots of lack of services. I think another big issue is the fact that the providers, there’s a high turnover in providers even so it makes it hard to build trust in some of the medical professions,” said Brad Hawk, the Indian Health systems administrator, ND Indian Affairs Commission.
But to begin to fight this battle, they need everyone to buy in, including leaders in the faith-based community, local law enforcement and to educate in the home, warning parents on the dangers of sexual assault.
They said one of the main goals is to figure out how to get children the help they need.
The task force is also looking for input.
Their next meeting is set for Nov. 19 in Bismarck, and then on Dec. 17 in Fargo.