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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: NR-019-14
January 10, 2014

DOD Evaluates Sexual Harassment, Prevention and Response Efforts at Military Academies

The Department of Defense issued today the Academic Program Year 2012-2013 Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the United States Military Service Academies (MSA).  As part of a comprehensive review, DoD officials conducted site visits at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy, reviewed academy policies, training, and procedures, and held focus groups with cadets and midshipmen.

“Sexual assault is a crime and has no place at the academies, just as it has no place in the rest of the military,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.  “The Defense Department is committed to strengthening the professional climate across the military, including at the service academies, to reinforce the cultural imperatives of respect, trust, and professional values,” he added.

Based on information obtained during these site visits, DoD officials found that all academy programs met the requirements of existing DoD policies and directives and public law.  Senior leaders at each academy took steps to become more aware of and sensitive to the needs of victims; led monthly case management groups to improve and sustain timely and effective response to sexual assault; undertook efforts to reinforce service values; held sensing sessions capturing cadet/midshipman perceptions and feedback; and engaged stakeholders and the community to foster a climate of prevention and SAPR awareness. 

However, the assessment observations, focus group data and reports show that sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexist behaviors still occur.  During the evaluation period, the academies saw an overall decrease in the number of sexual assault reports made to authorities.  In APY 2012-2013, a total of 70 reports of sexual assault involved cadets and midshipmen compared to a total of 80 reports in the prior APY.Of the 70 reports, 53 involve events that cadets/midshipmen experienced while they were in the military.  Because there is no prevalence rate available for this past academic year, the department cannot determine whether the decrease in reporting this year at the service academies was due to fewer assaults occurring, or due to fewer victims opting to report. 

Focus group feedback from cadets and midshipmen indicate that they believe incidents would be taken seriously by MSA leadership and dealt with immediately.  Still, cadets and midshipmen indicate that they remain concerned that reporting a sexual assault will impact their reputation and social standing with classmates.            

Given this feedback and the results of the site visits, the secretary of defense directed the implementation of several measures to enhance program effectiveness, advance and sustain appropriate culture, and expand alcohol policies to improve the safety of cadets and midshipmen.  The academies will report to the secretary of defense on their plans to support these initiatives by March 30. 

The complete report is available at http://www.sapr.mil.  For academy specific information, contact the individual military services at 703-692-1580 for Army, 703-697-5342 for Navy, and 703-695-0640 for Air Force.

The DoD Safe Helpline is available to provide confidential assistance to victims of sexual assault.  Call, click or text at 1-800-995-5247 or www.safehelpline.org.