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Commissioners declare April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Clinton County Commissioners Angela Harding, Chair Miles Kessinger and Jeff Snyder are pictured with four representatives of Roads to Peace following their proclamation of April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

LOCK HAVEN — Every 68 seconds someone in the United State is sexually assaulted.

This was one of many statistics read prior to the Clinton County Commissioners proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Commissioner Angela Harding read a list of statistics regarding sexual assault which were provided by Roads to Peace (formerly the Clinton County Women’s Center).

“81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime,” Harding said.

The statistics in the proclamation noted that about 2 in 5 women, 1 in 4 men and 1 in 2 transgender people — regardless of gender — have been sexually assaulted in their life time; and 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

Other statistics Harding read from the proclamation were:

— 13 percent of transgender kids are sexually assaulted because they are transgender between kindergarten and twelfth grade.

— 20 percent of 10 to 17 year olds receive unwanted sexual solicitations while using the Internet.

— In Pennsylvania, 22,000 children will experience child sexual abuse each year.

— More than 463,000 people age 12 and older are raped and sexually assaulted in the United State each year.

— More than 2 in 3 sexual assaults go unreported to police.

“Sexual violence places survivors at a significantly higher risk of experiencing long-term health issues, including an increased risk of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Harding read from the proclamation.

Locally, Roads to Peace has provided Sexual Assault Services to 84 survivors — adults, children and significant others — within the past year, Harding said.

Four representatives from Roads to Peace accepted the proclamation from Harding and fellow commissioners, Chair Miles Kessinger and Jeff Snyder.

Following approval of the proclamation, Harding noted sexual assault and harassment has become more prevalent due to the Internet.

“I think we’re all very aware that the Internet has escalated this problem ten-fold if not more. We all really need to be aware, as parents and community members, that this is a real, real problem and we need to do everything we can to try and stop it,” she said.

MENTAL HEALTH

The board approved a resolution in support of appropriating funding to support the commonwealth’s crumbling mental health system in the fiscal year of 2022-2023.

Snyder read from the resolution, which featured statistics compiled by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania — that met earlier this week. According to the resolution, funding for mental health support is considered a top priority by the association’s advocacy in 2022.

“As the providers of community-based mental health services, counties are seeing demands for mental health services in communities that far exceed state funding levels and without adequate and sustainable funding, counties may not be able to meet the mental health needs of some of our most vulnerable residents,” Snyder read.

According to the resolution, in 2012 the commonwealth cut $84 million that counties used to fund programs for “people with intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges, and other needs.” The programs were forced to close.

“State funding has lagged far behind needs and caseloads for years, which has negatively affected services while also putting tension on communities and local budgets,” Snyder said.

In Clinton County, efforts to support mental health services through coordination and investments in programs and services include mental health and intellectual disabilities services provided through Lycoming-Clinton Joinder. The county also provides services for veterans and a Behavioral Health Court.

The resolution stated counties need collaboration between the legislature and administration to “work closely with them on targeted, strategic investment of dollars into community mental health services at the county level in order to continue the existing safety net and bolster the availability of mental health services of those who need.”

Following unanimous approval, the resolution and a letter of support will be sent to state representatives, senators, the Department of Human Services and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

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