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Guard, Reserve Members Perceive Lessened Sexual Harassment

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2005 – Many Guard and Reserve members say they see fewer instances of sexual harassment within their ranks, according to a recently released Defense Department-commissioned survey.

"This is the department's first survey of reservists that focuses on sexual harassment and assault and provides a baseline against which we can measure future progress," David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, stated in a DoD news release.

Most of the men surveyed, 60 percent, and many women, at 46 percent, said sexual harassment had become less frequent and less of problem in the Guard and Reserve in recent years.

More than 76,000 Guard members and reservists from all the military services participated in the survey, which had a 42 percent response rate, Dr. Anita R. Lancaster, assistant director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, said Dec. 22.

About 75 percent of survey respondents said they'd received recent training on how to identify and report sexual harassment or assault, Lancaster said. More than 90 percent of those surveyed said the training was effective.

The survey showed that about 19 percent of Guard and Reserve women said they'd been sexually harassed during the 12 months preceding the taking of the poll. Three percent of men in the Guard or Reserve said they'd been sexually harassed.

Around 10 percent of women polled in the reserve component survey said they'd experienced sex discrimination. About 2 percent reported that they'd been sexually assaulted, which is similar to the 3 percent sexual assault rate reported by active duty military women.

The reserve component survey was conducted from March 19 through June 21, 2004, Lancaster said. It polled servicemembers with at least seven months of service below the rank of general or admiral.

Data provided by Coast Guard Reserve members was collected in the reserve component poll, but that information isn't reflected in the report, Lancaster said.

"We're not reporting out on the Coast Guard," Lancaster said. "This is a DoD report, so we provided Coast Guard data to the Coast Guard." The Coast Guard comes under the Department of Homeland Security.

The department conducted sexual harassment surveys of active duty servicemembers in 1988, 1995, and 2002, Lancaster said. A fourth survey of active duty members, she said, is slated to be conducted next year.

"We're on a schedule to survey each of these populations every four years," Lancaster said.

Lancaster said surveys are useful tools to assess the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an organization's programs. For example, she said, surveys taken between 1988 and 1995 indicated a 13 percentage-point decline in sexual harassment across the Navy.

"The department has made tremendous progress since it began administering surveys back in 1988," Lancaster said.

DoD surveys conducted between 1995 and 2002, Lancaster said, showed that sexual harassment rates of active duty women had declined from 42 to 24 percent.

"That's an example of how much an organization can improve if they decide to focus on these social issues and decide they're going to be a priority," Lancaster said.

The reserve-component survey will be studied and employed to determine where to provide more resources to combat sexual harassment and assault, said Dr. John Winkler, the deputy undersecretary of defense for reserve affairs.

"We'll use it to sort of direct our efforts to understand what the various reserve components are doing in this area," Winkler said, "and where they perhaps need to apply additional attention."

Another, separate, DoD-sponsored survey that reported on sexual harassment/assault at the three military academies also was recently released.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Release on Sexual Harassment, Assault Surveys at Military Academies, Reserve Components

Related Articles:
Cadets, Midshipmen See Less Sex Harassment, Survey Says

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