A Pentagon report released Wednesday revealed the number of overall sexual assaults at the three U.S. service academies spiked in 2016 to its highest level since the 2011–’12 academic term.
Remarking on the conclusions of the study with unease, Defense Secretary James Mattis said:
“Cadets and midshipmen are our military’s future leaders. Our readiness in combat tomorrow will depend in large part on their experiences today. We must foster an environment that rejects sexual assault and sexual harassment, notably during these formative years at our service academies.”
Based on data collected during the 2015–’16 school year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy, the report discloses 12.2 percent of females and 1.7 percent of males enrolled at all three institutions combined experienced unwanted sexual contact.
An increase from a previous survey, the results released Wednesday uncover a rise from 8.2 percent of females and 1.1 percent of male cadets who admitted to facing sexual harassment in 2014.
Conclusions from a similar study conducted in 2012 study revealed a drop from 12.4 percent of females and 2.0 percent of males who encountered harassment.
Only the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., saw a decline in reported assaults over the 2015–’16 term.
“This kind of toxic behavior cannot be tolerated. This is a challenging effort considering the fact that 25 percent of the Brigade turns over every year through graduation and the arrival of a new class every summer,” Vice Admiral Ted Carter, superintendent at the Naval Academy said in response to the report.
The Pentagon’s deputy director for sexual assault prevention, Nate Galbreath, and assistant defense secretary for readiness, Elizabeth Van Winkle, both acknowledged that alcohol is a major contributor in sexual assault cases, as drinking occurs in about 60 percent of those incidents reported by females.
[The Hill] [AP] [Photo courtesy Department of Defense/D. Myles Cullen via Military Times]