Students at Military Schools Face an Environment of Increased Numbers of Sexual Assaults
Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. military academies are reporting an increase in sexual assaults. A survey was conducted of students at West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy on the prevalence of sexual assault. There has been a nearly 50% increase in reported incidents since 2016. Over 700 students reported being subjected to unwanted sexual contact in the latest survey.
But, surprisingly, there has not been an equal increase in official reporting of sexual assault in military schools. The number of official reports has stayed the same since 2016, even though survey results reflected a 50% increase in occurrences. The dramatic increase in sexual assaults reflects the hostile environment faced by many students in military schools.
But what about the lack of official reporting? Some military schools have a powerful ‘no snitching’ code. Of course I’m not talking about a written rule. But it is a code among the students. No matter what happens, you better not report it or you’re going to pay a price. The snitch gets socially excommunicated and retaliated against. As a student, all you have to do is see that happen one time and then you know you don’t want to ever do it. Often it is the end of your tenure at the school.
This is a story of failure on the part of the adults running the school. An environment of constant sexual assault occurs only if it is not stopped. An environment that punishes people who report bad conduct also exists only if the people running the school do not stop it. Sitting back and letting the students run the school is not acceptable.