The number of sexual violence reported to the U.S. Military Academy approximately doubled in the last school year, according to data reviewed by The Associated Press.
The number of sexual violence reported to the U.S. Military Academy approximately doubled in the last school year, according to data reviewed by The Associated Press, in the latest example of the armed forces’ persistent struggle to root out such misconduct.
It is the fourth year in a row that sexual abuse reports increased at the school in West Point, New York. There were 50 cases in the school year that ended last summer, compared with 26 made during the school year 2015-2016. By comparison, the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, saw only a slight increase.
Department of defense and West Point officials said the big jump at the Military Academy was the result of a concerted effort to encourage victims to come forward. But the dramatic and consistent increases may suggest more attacks happen.
“I am very encouraged by the reports,” the Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, told the AP in an interview. “I recognize that people are not going to understand” the desire for increased reporting, ” he said. But, he added, “I have a steel stomach to take criticism.”
The annual report on sexual violence in the three military academies, is the result of this month. The Naval Academy reports rose to 29 last year, 28. The Air Force Academy, which is surrounded by one, to 33.
Approximately 12,000 students are enrolled in all three settings. The AP reviewed the data relative to the public release.
The report highlights persistent problems within the Air Force Academy sexual assault prevention office who was at the end of last year. Staff and management issues led to the sweeping disciplinary measures, dismissal of the director and an office restructuring.
The problems may cast doubt on a sharp decline in reported sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy for the 2015-16 school year, assuming a large-scale loss of confidence in the office. Students may be reluctant to file reports.
There are worrisome trends.
In an anonymous survey last year suggested there were more sexual violence, unwanted sexual contact and the other bad behavior in all three academies. It found 12 percent of women and almost 2 percent of men said they experienced unwanted sexual contact. The largest increases were in the Army and Navy academies.
In response, West Point leaders took steps to bring more victims to come. “When we saw that, we have a complete overview of our strategy,” Caslen said. “We went after an increased reporting.”
Officials moved the sexual assault reporting center to a more accessible area on the campus with a private entrance. It was in a building where students faced discipline had to go.
“I’ve been telling them to do that for years,” said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office. “Walking into the building where a lot of people who are in trouble, that is a real barrier for people to come forward and make a report.”
West Point loosened regulations force cadets public report of sexual assault. Now they can seek help anonymously, without filing a formal report, in which many victims are reluctant to do.
Military leaders have said that an increase in sexual assault reports is good because it shows that students are aware of the treatment programs and the confidence in the system. The officials say that they want to make the number of reports more closely mirror the higher levels of bad behavior, and suggested in their annual anonymous surveys.
The general goal, however, is more prevention, less violence, and effective help for the victims.
Brig. Gen. Omar Jones, the Army’s public affairs chief, said this year is the increase the result of the “pro-active and conscious initiatives to help victims report incidents.
There is a general decline in the reports of the 2015-16 school year at the three academies because the Army and Navy increases were offset by a strong decrease at the Air Force Academy. But the Air Force Academy later controversies, ask questions about whether the many victims avoided the office and do not file reports.
Last year, the Air Force Academy has released a scathing report saying its Sexual assault Prevention and Response Office last fight, rumors and sloppy administration. The recommended firing the director, Teresa Beasley. She resigned.
“There are people out there who are unable to make the report that they wanted? Probably,” said Galbreath. “We stopped everything and I wrote a get-well plan.” The recorded return for the cadets, who visit the office in the course of the year before they were given the necessary assistance.
The Air Force Academy superintendent, Lt.-Gen. Jay Silveria, increasing the staff from five to eight. He added there is a separate sexual assault response coordinator for the 10th Air Wing, which consists of active duty forces in the area who had used the academy office.
Air force Captain Matthew Chism, an academy spokesman, said the leaders are convinced that they have the problems in the office. He said that they “continue to examine our efforts are and will remain transparent as we strive to develop a culture of dignity and respect at the academy.”
Galbreath said he recommended all military service leaders, more surveillance of sexual violence-prevention offices.
There are five U.S. military academies. The U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, in Kings Point, New York, and carried out by the Ministry of transport, are not included in this report.