WASHINGTON -- Sexual assaults and harassment are still significant problems at the nation's military academies, polls of students at the schools indicate, despite recent scandals that triggered intensive training to prevent the behavior.
Up to 6 percent of the women at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies said they were sexually assaulted during the 2004-2005 school year, and about half or more said they were sexually harassed, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pentagon.
The survey comes more than two years after a sexual abuse scandal rocked the Air Force Academy, leading to a purge in its leadership and a new, intensive focus on training to prevent abuse and sexual harassment. The Pentagon's new emphasis on training and awareness, however, has not seemed to resonate on the campuses. While nearly all the students said they had received training in sexual assault and harassment prevention, half to two-thirds said it was either slightly or not at all effective in preventing such abuse.
The impact of increased training was most evident at the Air Force campus in Colorado Springs, where reports of rape by dozens of women triggered the 2003 scandal. According to the new survey, Air Force cadets reported a lower percentage of women students who were sexually assaulted or harassed than the other two military academies. Four percent of the Air Force women said they were assaulted, while 49 percent said they were harassed.
Cadets at the US Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., reported the highest number of assaults and sexual harassment. According to the survey, 6 percent of the women were sexually assaulted, and nearly two-thirds were sexually harassed. Of those assaulted, about 4 in 10 reported it. And among those who reported it, nearly 40 percent said they experienced repercussions.
''We are reviewing the findings carefully and examining our policies, programs, and leadership efforts to determine how such incidents can be prevented, and to ensure we respond effectively if they do occur," said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.