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A Message from Kathleen Betts, Assistant Secretary, Office of Children, Youth, and Families:

Did you know that 4,418 adolescents and adults are sexually assaulted across our Commonwealth each year?  This month, I proudly listened to Governor Deval Patrick proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  According to data collected by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 33 men in the US report being victims of rape in their lifetime.  And while it is critical to raise awareness, we also know that words alone are not enough.  We need to act.  This crime affects people from all racial, cultural, educational and economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations and it will take all of us to stop it.

In cities across Massachusetts, there is a growing force of young people on our college campuses and in high school hallways who are stepping up to promote healthy relationships.  We were fortunate to have one such group of young adults join us at this month’s Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence meeting:  Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships — a program through the Boston Public Health Commission that is focused on preventing teen dating violence.  Through peer mentorship, community education and creative media these young men and women are working to create environments that support healthy relationships and ensure that sexual and dating violence is not tolerated.

As we work to ensure that all women, children and men can live free of fear of sexual assault, I encourage all residents in the Commonwealth to take this month especially to join me in speaking out against sexual violence and raising awareness in your community.

If you’re a survivor of sexual assault, there are resources available in Massachusetts to help. Click here for more information.

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Written By:


Assistant Secretary, Office of Children, Youth, and Families

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Children, Youth, and Families

Deputy Communications Director, Office of Health and Human Services


Communications Fellow

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