One In Seven Female Military Students Assaulted
April 1, 2005
The first-ever survey of sexual misconduct on three military academy campuses found that one in seven women has been sexually assaulted, and one in two has experienced some kind of sexual harassment on campus. It also found that few incidents of harassment and just one-third of the assaults were reported.
The survey of 4,200 cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, the Naval Academy in Annapolis and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was conducted in March and April of 2004 for the U.S. Department of Defense. It included 3,200 women and 1,000 men, and covered incidents that occurred from 1999 to the time of the survey.
Two hundred sixty-two female students reported 302 sexual assaults, including 94 alleged rapes, in the survey. Most assaults occurred in barracks or dormitories. Just 96 of these incidents were reported to authorities, and most women who did not report the incidents said it was because they were afraid of disclosure, ridicule or ostracism.
Male students reported 55 incidents of sexual assault during the same period, with some eleven percent of male students saying they had experienced some kind of sexual harassment at school.
In releasing the survey results, the Department of Defense announced new policies designed to make it easier for victims to report assaults. They include allowing victims to receive medical care, counseling and access to victim advocacy without immediately triggering an investigation. The goal is to encourage victims to seek help while assuring their privacy. The new policy will take effect in June.
“Although the Department would prefer complete reporting of sexual assaults to activate both victim services and accountability actions, we believe our first priority needs to be for victims to be protected, to have them treated with dignity and respect, and to receive the medical treatment, care and counseling that they deserve,” Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu told the New York Times.