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Military Cadets Mostly Feel Safe From Sexual Harassment

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2007 – Most students at the Army, Air Force and Naval academies say they feel safe from sexual harassment when on or off campus, according to findings contained in a 300-page report based on the latest Defense Department-commissioned survey on the subject.

The most recent report, titled, “Service Academy 2006 Gender Relations Survey,” was conducted by the Defense Manpower Data Center in March and April. The third of a series of such surveys mandated by Congress, it was administered to students at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Participants included 2,080 female and 3,969 male students. The overall response rate was 86 percent.

The survey measured five categories of unwanted, gender-related behaviors: sexist behavior, crude or offensive behavior, unwanted sexual attention, sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual contact, according to the report.

Of all female students polled who said they’d been sexually harassed, the vast majority said the transgressor was male. Yet, depending upon the time and place, the overwhelming majority of cadets -- both male and female -- said they felt safe from sexual assault on the grounds of their campus. Most respondents also said they felt safe from sexual harassment off campus.

About 10.5 percent of the women and 1 percent of the men polled at the USMA said they’d experienced unwanted sexual contact during the 2006 academic year. Unwanted sexual contact includes attempted intercourse or unwanted touching of genitalia and other sexually-related areas of the body.

At the Naval Academy, 8.2 percent of women and 1.4 percent of men said they’d been sexually harassed. And 9.5 percent of the women and 1.2 percent of the men surveyed at the Air Force Academy said they’d experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Almost all students polled at the three academies said they’d received training in sexual-assault prevention and response in the year prior to taking the survey. The majority of respondents also said they believe academy leaders are dedicated in stopping sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Questions about stalking behaviors related to sexual harassment were added to the 2006 survey, because Congress expanded the legal parameters of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2006 to make stalking a crime. The vast majority of respondents said they’d not experienced stalking during the school year.

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Related Sites:
Service Academy 2006 Gender Relations Survey
Defense Manpower Data Center

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