Child sex assault reports increase 50%

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Western Slope Center for Children took 67 reports of child sex assault cases in January and February this year.

According to the executive director of the center, there's no definite reason as to why there's been a significant increase in cases in 2013. In fact, studies show when one child sex assault victim comes forward, nine others remain silent, unwilling to come forward.

The center serves the entire Western Slope, and officials say an average of 300 children come through their doors on a yearly basis.

January and February of 2012 brought in 44 cases, 271 by the year's end. Unfortunately, this year's cases have only increased, with 32 cases reported in January and 35 in February - the highest figures in the center's history.

"The number of children that we saw at the end of 2012 was down a bit from the year before," said Shari Zen, Western Slope Center for Children. "If we stay on course for this year, we may see a record number of children here, but that's why we exist. I don't think we'll ever see our agency go away because children are hurt by others."

Since 1997, the center has served 4,500 children, working with the Department of Human Services and law enforcement agencies to crack down on the crime.

This year in Grand Junction alone, 14 cases of sex assault on a child have been reported. Officials encourage the community to be on the lookout for signs of abuse, physical or sexual, understanding that 90 percent of children are hurt by someone they know.

To report suspicious behavior, you can contact local authorities or call the child protection hotline at (970) 242-1211.

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