May 1, 2014 — Department of Defense officials announced Thursday that reports of sexual assault by military service members have increased by 50% since the Pentagon launched an awareness campaign, the AP/Time reports.
According to survey data and other information, there were 5,061 reports of sexual abuse filed by members of the military in the year that ended on Sept. 30, compared with 3,374 reports the previous year. Of those reports, about 10% involved assaults that occurred before the person enlisted, up from 4% in 2012.
Nate Galbreath, senior executive adviser for the Pentagon's sexual assault prevention office, also noted that the data show an increase in prosecution of sexual assault cases, with action taken against 73% of accused perpetrators in the military justice system in 2013, up from 66% in 2012.
Report Prompts Military Action
In response to the findings, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday is announcing a greater focus on prevention, including efforts designed to enable and encourage troops to intervene in sexual assault situations, the AP/Time reports. In addition, military bases are being encouraged to work with local communities to better train people who sell alcohol to promote responsible alcohol consumption. According to officials, nearly two-thirds of sexual assault cases involved alcohol.
Officials also said that they will increase efforts to encourage male victims of sexual assault to come forward.
Data collected by the Associated Press found that 14% of the reports filed in 2013 involved male victims. An anonymous survey conducted in 2012 found that while sexual assault rates were higher among women than among men in the military, the total number of assaults were higher for men -- about 14,000 male victims, or 1.2% of men in the military, compared with about 12,000 female victims, representing 6.8% of women in the military -- because men outnumber women in the armed forces.
Galbreath said, "There is still a misperception that this is a women's issue and women's crime," adding, "It's disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report."
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said, "There is no indication that this increase in reporting constitutes an increase in crime." He added, "We assess that this unprecedented increase is consistent with a growing confidence in the response systems" (Baldor, AP/Time, 5/1).