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Helping Hands Against Violence has adorned downtown poles with teal ribbons, and messages, to observe Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

The facts are stark and disturbing:

As this community and others observes Sexual Assault Awareness Week, consider this:

  • Youths aged 12-17 are 2.5 times as likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault.
  • One in six boys and one in four girls will experience a sexual assault before age 18. These crimes — rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment — affect individuals, they affect families, and they affect communities.

“Child sexual abuse must be a priority to confront these realities,” states a proclamation passed last week by Hood River City Council.

Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW), April 22-28, is a time for us to consider the extent of the problem. As the proclamation states, “community-wide awareness is the first step toward preventing sexual assault.” The city proclamation states the SAAW is an annual opportunity to create change for the future. “We join advocates and communities across the country in taking action to prevent sexual assault.”

The observance underscores the work of the venerable, and highly effective Helping Hands Against Violence program in Hood River. We also uphold the “It’s On Us” campaign at Hood River Valley High School, profiled on page A1.

Teal ribbons tied to posts downtown are a reminder to us all. Many of them bear the most important information of all: Helping Hands’ hotline telephone number — 5541-386-6603 — a confidential and time-tested community service.

Take a moment and read the messages attached with the ribbons. They include the message:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

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