Mid-March of 2023, the Department of Defense (DOD) released the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, Academic Program Year 2021-2022. The report is available online at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response website.
The DOD found that while in 2012-2014, there were efforts made to reduce sexual assault, there was actually an increase in prevalence between 2014 and 2018. Congress mandates that the DOD collect and submit an annual report for each of the Academies. The report includes sexual harassment and sexual violence involving academy personnel at the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, and United States Air Force Academy.
The 44-page report is in addition to a memorandum on actions to address and present sexual assault in the military service academies and self-assessment reports by the academies themselves. The report demonstrates a continued increase in prevalence rates of unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, and “other readiness-detracting behaviors.” The total number of sexual assault reports among the academies was 206, with 114 restricted reports and 92 unrestricted reports. As compared to the 2019- 2020 school year of 129 total reports.
Sexual harassment complaints also increased, with 15 formal complaints, 20 informal complaints, and 5 anonymous complaints. In total, the United States Naval Academy received 9, the United States Military Academy received 20, and the United States Air Force Academy received 11.
The survey also demonstrated that the students perceived that academy leadership did try to prevent sexual assault or harassment.
Due to these findings and more, the DOD listed that they would conduct on-site installation evaluations, provide outcome evaluation assistance to determine which prevention programs to continue, and work on climate assessments at each of the Academies.
The report outlined further actions for the military departments and academies to incorporate up-to-date sexual assault prevention and response policies, develop a prevention implementation workforce, ensure military justice reform, and implement a return to health policy assisting cadets in balancing their academic goals and needs after a sexual assault. In addition, the Military Service Academies were advised to address the physical separation of survivors and alleged perpetrators. It is noted the Deputy Secretary of Defense will assess the progress made on the programs.
The Secretary of Defense closed out his guidance for addressing the memorandum by stating, “I expect you to reverse the harmful trends at our MSAs. Now is the time to employ the resources with which we have been entrusted and advance our common way forward. Our future leads are counting on you. We must lead the change we require.”