DOJ report shows 34 percent of La Crosse County sex crime victims are teenagers

DOJ report shows 34 percent of La Crosse County sex crime victims are teenagers

Sex crimes have risen by more than 50 percent over the past three years in La Crosse County. 
According to a new Wisconsin Department of Justice report (DOJ report Sex Crimes in Wisconsin), teenagers represented the highest number of sex crime victims in 2017. 

La Crosse County's sex crime numbers jumped from 76 in 2016 to 98 last year and 34 percent of those crimes involved individuals ages 13 to 17. 

The La Crosse Police Department said there are many factors for the increase, but they want the public to be aware of the problem to help find solutions. 

"Any increase in sexual assault crimes or any kind of crime is a concern," said Officer Brooke Pataska, of the La Crosse Sensitive Crime Bureau. 
Sex crimes have jumped 50 percent in three years and the La Crosse Police Department is trying to make sense of the statistic. 

"It could actually mean there are still the same amount of crimes but people are actually reporting them more,"  Pataska said. 

However, the increase has Pataska's attention attention. 

"A 50 percent increase is huge," Pataska said. 

She said the department is working with local schools to make sure they are finding children and young adults who need help. 

"We are talking to our school resource officers and making sure they are aware of some of these increases and (encouraging them in) any way they can to reach out to some of the kids, too," Pataska said. 

The DOJ report also found that 38 percent of sex crime offenders were ages 15 to 22. Pataska said the department is looking into why young people are committing more sexual crimes. 

"If we knew what the problem was, hopefully we would have it solved by now," Pataska said. 

She said the department's main focus is to make sure they care for those who have been affected. 

"Our main concern is obviously for that victim," Pataska said. 

They want survivors to know they are not alone and help is one question away. 

"It could be a friend or a counselor," Pataska said.  "It could be a teacher; it could be a family member or a parent. Them telling their story and letting us know how we can help is huge." 

She hopes families talk openly about the issue before the school year begins. 

"Sit down and have those discussions with your teens going back to school and let them know if they are in a relationship some of the things they should be thinking about and be aware of," Pataska said. 

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