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Study from Pentagon Demands Reforms to Counter Surge in Sexual Misconduct at Military Schools

by Lucas Garcia
5 comments
Pentagon study

According to a recent study conducted by the Pentagon, U.S. military academies are urged to enhance leadership, eradicate negative practices like hazing, and incorporate behavior training into educational programs. This call to action has been prompted by a disconcerting increase in sexual harassment and misconduct.

Officials in the U.S. stated that the institutions need to invest in better leadership training for student mentors to bridge the gap between classroom lessons and the negative and frequently unpunished behavior observed outside the classroom. The review urges the introduction of more senior officers and enlisted leaders to work alongside students at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies, to facilitate extended training.

Released on Thursday, the report points out that dialogues about stress management, misconduct, social media, and other issues of life often take place during non-working hours or weekends. It strongly recommends that these subjects be integrated into regular coursework and assessed, emphasizing their significance.

This study follows a recent report revealing an alarming surge in reported sexual assaults during the academic year 2021-22, with one in five female students claiming they faced unwelcome sexual advances. This level of reporting is unprecedented since the Defense Department initiated the collection of this data.

The increase in student-reported assaults is 18% overall from the previous year, with a notable contribution from the Navy, showing almost double the number in 2022 as opposed to 2021. The accompanying anonymous survey recorded growth in all categories of unwanted sexual contact, highlighting alcohol as a significant contributor.

To confront this issue, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin commissioned evaluations at the U.S. Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The resultant report, scheduled for release on Thursday, outlines immediate and long-term strategies to advance prevention and eradicate the corrosive environments fostering these challenges. Quick execution of these reforms has been ordered by Austin.

In a formal memo, Austin expressed his concerns, declaring that the spike in assaults and harassment is “disturbing and unacceptable,” undermining team integrity and military preparedness.

Representatives from the Pentagon’s force resiliency office stress that cultural change will take time, even with the implementation of solid programs. The toxic and unhealthy climates at academies currently diminish their effectiveness. Conflicting messages, promoting cynicism and mistrust, hinder the understanding of proper leadership and respectful treatment.

One alarming revelation was the Air Force Academy’s ongoing system that degrades freshmen, fostering hazing and an unhealthy atmosphere. The report also points to increased stress among incoming students dealing with prior negative experiences and inadequate preparation for student leaders to manage these issues.

Furthermore, the report identified the growing impact of social media platforms like Jodel, where unchecked harassment and bullying can thrive. Inaccurate information about assault prevention on such platforms may discourage students from seeking assistance.

The study also emphasizes that training has lagged behind technological advancements and societal changes, particularly in dealing with the substantial role alcohol plays in misconduct.

In summary, the report calls for comprehensive changes within military academies to address the alarming rise in sexual misconduct, necessitating improvements in leadership, curriculum, and the overall educational environment. The success of these changes hinges on a complex combination of implementing proper policies, nurturing a healthy command climate, and acknowledging the unique challenges of the current student population.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pentagon study

What does the Pentagon study recommend for U.S. military academies?

The Pentagon study recommends U.S. military academies to enhance leadership, eradicate negative practices such as hazing, and incorporate behavior training into educational programs. It calls for additional senior officers and enlisted leaders to work with students and urges that subjects like stress management, misconduct, and social media be integrated into regular coursework and assessed.

Why was the study conducted?

The study was prompted by a disconcerting increase in sexual harassment and misconduct at military academies, including an alarming surge in reported sexual assaults during the academic year 2021-22.

What were the major findings regarding sexual assaults in the report?

The report revealed an 18% overall increase in student-reported assaults compared to the previous year, with one in five female students claiming unwanted sexual advances. Alcohol was identified as a significant contributing factor, and the Navy showed almost double the number of incidents in 2022 compared to 2021.

How did Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin respond to the findings?

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin responded by ordering on-site evaluations at various U.S. military academies and commissioning a report outlining immediate and long-term strategies for prevention. He also ordered quick execution of the recommended reforms and declared the increase in assaults and harassment as “disturbing and unacceptable.”

What role does social media play in the misconduct according to the report?

The report identified the growing impact of social media platforms, where unchecked harassment and bullying can thrive. It specifically pointed to Jodel, an anonymous social media app, where students can receive inaccurate information about assault prevention, discouraging them from seeking assistance.

How does the report suggest dealing with the role of alcohol in misconduct?

The report emphasizes the substantial role that alcohol plays in misconduct but acknowledges that simply implementing alcohol prevention or responsible drinking policies won’t have the intended impact if implemented in a toxic command climate.

What are the concerns about the current training at the academies?

The report stresses that training at the academies has not kept pace with technological advancements and societal changes, particularly in dealing with misconduct. It also points out that student leaders often aren’t trained or equipped to handle these issues or provide proper support to students.

Are there any concerns about implementing the recommended changes?

Representatives from the Pentagon’s force resiliency office emphasize that cultural change will take time, and toxic and unhealthy climates currently diminish the effectiveness of programs. They caution that not only will the changes take time to implement, but the transformation of the underlying culture will also be a slow process.

More about Pentagon study

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5 comments

James Smith August 22, 2023 - 3:47 am

Its about time they adress this issue! Toxic practices like hazing have no place in our military academies. We need strong leaders, not bullies.

Reply
Sarah Johnson August 22, 2023 - 5:57 am

I find the report’s findings really alarming. Especially the part about the role of social media and alcohol. This is just a tip of the iceberg? There must be more underneath.

Reply
Robert Harris August 22, 2023 - 8:23 am

Our military is supposed to be an example of discipline and honor, and this report shows some serious failures in upholding those values. Hope the recommended changes are implemented soon!

Reply
Timothy White August 22, 2023 - 8:25 pm

this is not just a military issue. Its a reflection of our society. The leadership must take strong actions but also look at the root causes.

Reply
Emily Brown August 22, 2023 - 8:57 pm

What’s going on with the Navy, nearly double the number in 2022? That’s terrifying, They must take serious steps to deal with this, and fast!

Reply

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