The estimated number of incidents of sexual assault at US service academies has increased nearly 50% since 2016, according to a new Pentagon report on sexual harassment in 2018 that was released Thursday.
The Department of Defense estimates that 747 cadets across all military academies experienced unwanted sexual contact last year, compared with an estimated 507 cadets in 2016.
The figures do not represent reported assaults. They are taken from an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen at the three military academies.
“Among all female cadets and midshipmen, 15.8% experienced unwanted sexual contact in the past year in the survey, an increase from 12.2% in 2016,” according to the Pentagon. “Similarly, 2.4% of men experienced unwanted sexual contact in the past year compared to 1.7% in 2016.”
The study, based on surveys submitted to each academy, is conducted every two years by the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
The report notes that while the prevalence of sexual assault has increased, the number of incidents reported remains at nearly the same level as 2016.
The academies received a total of 117 reports of sexual assault involving cadets and midshipmen in the 2017-2018 academic year, five more than in 2016.
“The climates at the academies have yet to inspire the moral courage required for students to reject and combat these disruptive elements,” the report summary says.
“This (is) a leadership issue. Leaders establish culture, enforce standards, and ensure the safety of those entrusted to their care. Academy leaders continue to receive high survey marks from students in terms of making honest and reasonable efforts to stop sexual assault and sexual harassment,” it adds.