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State urges medical treatment for sexual assault victims

ST. PAUL -- The number of teenagers seeking treatment at a hospital after being sexually assaulted dropped between 2010 and 2014 in Minnesota, the state health department reported Friday.

ST. PAUL -- The number of teenagers seeking treatment at a hospital after being sexually assaulted dropped between 2010 and 2014 in Minnesota, the state health department reported Friday.

The overall number of hospital-treated sexual violence cases didn’t change much over the five years - from 1,442 in 2010 to 1,411 in 2014, according to data the Minnesota Department of Health released.

But among 15- to 19-year-olds, the number decreased from 339 visits in 2010 to 276 in 2014.

Health officials say they’re concerned that a far greater number go untreated. A 2005 Minnesota study found that only about one in five people who experience sexual assault seek medical care, the health department noted in a news release.

“We want women and men to know that there are many health benefits to seeking hospital care after a sexual assault,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the state’s health commissioner. “Typically a trained nurse can provide medical help including medications to prevent infection, emergency contraception, treatment of injury and counseling about next steps.”

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Nearly half of all victims of sexual assault and violence are between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the data.

The decline in teen hospital visits for sexual violence comes as fewer Minnesota teens also report being sexually abused, according to the health department’s briefing paper. It cited the most recent MN Student Survey, which found significant declines in surveyed teens reporting being “touched or forced to touch sexually against wishes” from 1992-2013.

Jeanine Ronayne, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, underscored the value of seeking treatment when a sexual attack occurs.

“A sexual assault nurse examiner or other trained medical provider is someone a victim can turn to for informed care and support,” Ronayne said in the news release. “It is important for victims to know they have a right to access a sexual assault examination at no cost regardless of whether they report the crime to police.”

The report showed a five-year average of hospital-treated sexual assault at 31.8 cases per 100,000 people in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area compared with a rate of 22.5 cases per 100,000 people in the rest of the state.

The data show hospital treatment for sexual assault is provided at all ages, from younger than 1 to older than 85. It also shows females are much more likely to be victimized than males - a rate of 52.0 per 100,000 over five years for females and a rate of 3.9 for males.

 

Related Topics: CRIME
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