Reports of sexual assaults at the nation’s three military academies rose more than 18 percent from 2021 to 2022, and more than 1 in 5 female students reported being the victim of unwanted sexual conduct, according to a report released Friday by the Pentagon. Is. ,
“Unfortunately, this year’s report shows a significant increase in the prevalence of sexual assault at military service academies,” said Beth Foster, executive director of the Department of Defense’s Office of Force Resilience. “Our numbers indicate that this is the highest estimated prevalence rate of sexual assault for both women and men in military service academies since the Department began measuring it in 2006. These numbers are deeply disappointing and troubling.”
In 2022, 155 cadets and midshipmen reported sexual assaults occurring during military service, up from 131 in 2021.
The Naval Academy, which has more than 4,500 students, saw the biggest increase from the 2021 school year to 2022, with reported assaults rising from 33 to 61, or nearly 100 percent. The number at the Air Force Academy, with about 4,000 students, was unchanged at 52 per year, while the number at West Point, which has 4,300 students, fell from 46 to 42.
Results of a survey of students at all three academies conducted this year showed that both men and women reported higher incidences of unwanted sexual behaviour. Overall, more than 1,100 students said they had been victims.
Alcohol was a significant contributing factor – either the victim or the alleged perpetrator had consumed alcohol in more than half of the cases. For female victims, more than 60 percent of unwanted contacts involve alcohol, according to Foster.
In the survey, more than 21 per cent girl students reported unwanted sexual conduct, up from 16.4 per cent in the previous survey, which was conducted in 2018.
More than 27 percent of other women reported unwelcome conduct, the most for any category.
Nate Galbraith, acting director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), said the high number could be linked to a change in the environment from first to second year at the academies.
Galbraith said, “As a freshman, cadets leave a very lonely life.” “There’s a lot of restriction on movement and freedom. When you become a secondary, there’s a lot more freedom … We think it’s the significant change from freshman to sophomore position that puts people at greater risk.” Is.”
The authors noted that reports of unwanted sexual conduct in academia have increased in every survey of students since 2014.
Surveys have been conducted every two years since 2006, but no survey was conducted in 2020 during the Covid pandemic.
This year’s survey also found that a third of female students had experienced unwelcome conduct before entering military academies, up from a quarter in the 2018 survey.
In response to the report, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a series of steps to “reverse harmful trends” in military service academies. Their directives are to prevent incidents, educate students, assess the environment at each of the academies, and help survivors recover from attacks. He also said more is needed to keep assault victims and alleged perpetrators from taking classes together or in “physical proximity”.
“As I have emphasized since taking office, I expect every member of our total force to be part of the solution to combating sexual assault and harassment,” Austin said. “These corrosive behaviors require your immediate attention.”