Preventing sexual assault on prom night

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Reporting sexual assault is the first step to healing and prosecution.  During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is seeking to educate victims regarding the importance of reporting sexual assault.

“Victims of sexual assault are often afraid to come forward because they may feel embarrassed, ashamed or worried about what people may think about them, their family or their friends,” says Niles Post Commander F/Lt Michael Dawson.  “Despite this, it is important to report a crime of sexual assault because it can help the victim begin the healing process and give detectives a better chance of catching the offender.”

Physical evidence collected from a victim at the scene of the crime plays a large role in the prosecution of sexual assault cases.  The longer a victim waits to report the crime, the less likely detectives will be able to collect necessary evidence.  Additionally, as time passes, it becomes more difficult for the victim to recall important details of the crime.

“Most important of all, victims who report sexual assaults help law enforcement to send a message to offenders that what they did was not okay and there are consequences for their actions,” said F/Lt Dawson.

There are many resources available to victims of sexual assault.  The Michigan Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault provides a comprehensive list of service providers across the state on their website at

In addition, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is available 24-hours a day anywhere in the U.S. at 1-800-656-HOPE.  This network provides confidential counseling and support for survivors of sexual assault.

With high school prom season approaching, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is advising students to make smart decisions and take extra precaution to stay safe while celebrating.

Prom is an exciting time for high school students and we want to encourage teens to have fun by making good choices. Students should know the consequences of underage drinking. There are legal ramifications, but most importantly, you can get yourself or someone else seriously injured or killed.

Not only is it illegal for anyone under 21 to have alcohol in their system, but it is illegal for someone under 21 to have alcohol in their possession at any time, regardless of whether they’ve consumed any of it.  The consequences of underage drinking can be an arrest for Minor In Possession (MIP) or for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) if a teen chooses to drive. Additionally, many employers, colleges and military recruiters take alcohol-related offenses into consideration when hiring or accepting applications.

Parents play an important role in keeping their teen safe on prom night. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child about evening plans and know how to get in contact with him/her. Parents should confirm details of parties with other adults, making sure alcohol will not be present at any gathering their child will be attending. Keep pertinent phone numbers and addresses on hand for any location their child is visiting and arrange for safe transportation.

Here are some tips that can help keep prom night safe:

• Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

• Abstain from sexual activity.

• Don’t drink and drive.

• Don’t get into a car with an intoxicated driver.

• Wear a seat belt at all times while traveling in an automobile.

• If hiring a limo service, make sure the service is properly licensed with the state of Michigan.

• Watch out for your date and others around you.

• Get directions to the location of the prom or other gatherings.

• Keep parents or guardians informed of your whereabouts.

If you need or want more tips and talking points for your child, look at TalkSooner.Org or Like CASS Coalition on Facebook.


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