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News Release


Release No: 410-96
July 02, 1996


Sexual harassment in the active-duty military is declining according to a recent Department of Defense survey. Between 1988 and 1995, the percentage of military women who reported that they had received uninvited and unwanted sexual attention from someone at work during the last 12 months declined from 64 to 55 percent. The percentage for men dropped from 17 to 14 percent. In addition, survey respondents with six to ten years of experience were asked their opinion of how often sexual harassment occurs, compared to a few years ago. Sixty percent of female respondents and 76 percent of males reported that it occurs less frequently. Only ten percent of female respondents and 5 percent of males said sexual harassment occurs more often today.

The survey was fielded at the same time other Department initiatives to prevent sexual harassment were being implemented. Three survey forms were mailed to military members between February and September 1995. The first survey replicated a 1988 DoD survey so as to provide comparisons to the 1988 timeframe. A second survey differed from the first in three ways. It provided: (1) survey respondents an opportunity to report on an expanded list of behaviors and to indicate if they considered any of those behaviors to have been sexual harassment; (2) an opportunity to report on experiences that occurred outside of their military duty hours; and (3) measures of Service members' perceptions of the complaint process and the extent of effectiveness of training related to sexual harassment. A third survey, for which no results were tabulated, was administered to a small sample to provide information that researchers could use to transition to a single survey in the future.

In addition to the decline in sexual harassment, other indications that Department initiatives were already making a difference were:

Training: Over 80 percent of members reported being trained

and about 60 percent indicated the training was moderately or

very effective. Awareness of Sexual Harassment: When asked if they knew what words and actions constitute sexual harassment, 82 percent of female respondents and 84 percent of men said to a large extent.

Reporting: Eighty-seven percent of female respondents and

89 percent of men said they knew the process for reporting sexual

harassment. Also, personnel are increasingly reporting their

experiences. In 1995, 40 percent of female respondents and 17

percent of men indicated they chose to report an incident,

compared to 1988 when 8 percent of the the women surveyed and 10

percent of men said they had done so.

Regardless of improvements to date, any incidence of sexual harassment is unacceptable. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, all employees of this Department have a right to carry out their jobs without discrimination or harassment. He and all senior leaders in the Department are committed to the implementation and enforcement of appropriate policies and safeguards to ensure that all members are assured of this basic right.

(Note to Editors: A copy of the Study Description and Summary is attached)

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