Police grapple with line between warnings, victim-blaming in sex attacks

HALIFAX -- Canadian police forces are grappling with how to keep the public safe against sexual assaults without placing blame on the victims of traumatic crimes.

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It's a delicate balance, as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary recently found out after issuing a public advisory warning of potential sexual assaults in downtown St. John's.

The advisory said women reported their drinks were being drugged at local bars and the force offered safety tips, including socializing only with trusted friends and never leaving drinks unattended.

Police also tweeted an image of a martini with the hashtag "No More Victims," which was criticized by some advocates as victim-blaming.

Halifax Regional Police say they've purposely changed their messaging in the last couple of years when it comes to sexual assaults to place the focus on the actions of the perpetrator instead of the victim.

Deputy Chief Bill Moore says more than ever, police are being held to account for their actions and words particularly when it comes to how they deal with victims.



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