On Wednesday, the US Naval Academy announced that it will integrate sexual assault prevention into the academic program in an effort combat high rates of sexual assault in the military.
Commandant Captain Bill Byrne, who took over the academy this summer, wants to change the current Sexual Harassement and Assault Prevention Education initiative from after-class trainings to part of the classroom structure starting on “Day One.” The program discusses rape and its psychological effects, consent, dating, the effects of alcohol, and what bystanders can do to stop assault. It is expected to be made part of an introductory Navy leadership class during the spring semester and then incorporated into other classes.
In May, the Department of Defense issued an annual report that showed that sexual assault in the military rose by 35% from 2010 to 2012. The report found that 26,000 members of the military experienced “unwanted sexual contact” in 2012 when answering an anonymous survey – a rate of approximately 70 assaults a day. That number is almost 7,000 instances higher than in 2010. In addition the report found only 3,374 reports of sexual assault were filed, according to the Pentagon. Of those cases filed, fewer than one in 10 ended with a court-martial conviction of sexual assault. In the majority of cases, the alleged attacker faced small administrative punishments or the case was dismissed.
“The leadership division and the faculty are figuring out exactly what it means to the student in the classroom, and we aren’t there yet,” Byrne told reporters. “But I feel good that everybody’s in agreement that it’s the right thing to do.”