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By Jess Seabolt
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute's victim services committee has approved a $65,000 grant to study the underreporting of sexual assaults against youth in Indiana.
The study is the result of legislation pushed by Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis. The proposal was added to the Lifeline Law during the 2014 session.
"It's critically important to the state," Hale said Thursday. "This problem is so pervasive and scary."
Hale says that nearly one in six girls in high school are sexually assaulted in Indiana and that there isn't much information concerning assaults against boys. Hale is concerned with the lack of information and says the problem can't be addressed without information.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana leads the nation in reported sexual assaults involving girls. In Indiana, 17.3 percent of girls in grades 9 through 12 said they have been raped, compared to the national average of 10.5 percent of girls in the same age range.
Hale believes that connecting victims with the proper service they need to get help and getting information so the crimes can be prevented will be crucial to improving Indiana's standing as top in the nation in reported sexual assaults involving girls.
"Children have the right to be safe," Hale said.
Jess Seabolt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.