The DoD has released its most important findings for the 2010-2011 Academic Year with the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at Military Academies; this report includes the results from the Service Academy Gender Relations Focus Groups.
The DoD reports that reducing sexual harassment cases on land, in air, or on the sea, is one of the department’s main priorities. Another main focus of the DoD is to provide excellent support for the victims of the cases that have occurred. That is the focus of the of the new Department of Defense policies, one which allows for quicker transfers. That means, if a victim of sexual harassment wants to be transferred from the site or military installation at which the crime was committed they can file an unrestricted report and be moved from their current base or school almost immediately.
Under the new policy, the service member that has been sexually harassed must receive an answer to their transfer request within 72-hours of the original request. Also, if the request is denied, the victim has the right to receive a review from the general, or flag, officer within another 72-hours.
The second policy that the DoD is now implementing will regulate the retentions times for sexual assault records across all branches of the military. The records for all sexual harassment records will be held by the military for a total of 50 years. In restricted cases, that number drops to only 5 years, the DoD claims these new policies will give victims as much access to their sexual harassment documents as necessary to bring a resolution to any case that occurs.
The 2010-2011 academic year brought a higher number of sexual harassment cases than the previous year. In the previous year, there were 41 reports of sexual harassment and assault. In the 2010-11 school year, the DoD reported 65 cases filed by military academies and the attending cadets. That increase signals a growing problem that can’t be ignored. The increase may not seem large, but in reality, it increased by nearly a third.
In most cases, the military academies under review are meeting or going beyond the current DoD requirements. For example, West Point has made the superintendent the chair of the Sexual Harassment Review Board. This was done to make sure that all cases are given the utmost attention and provide the highest level of prevention possible to protect students and faculty.
One required improvement that the DoD is pushing, is for all academies is to establish a process of evaluation and metrics systems to assess their own sexual harassment and assault prevention programs. Based on those evaluations, individual academies must change to improve their programs ability to inform and prevent sexual harassment. One of the best ways to ensure that the individual academies have the highest quality of prevention and information, the academies should share both successes and failures in their systems.
One of the best tools that the government could wield is the online sexual harassment class. Each student and faculty member taking these classes can affect the prevention of, recording, and even detention of offenders for the best positive outcome possible.