Reports of sexual assaults at the three military academies surged by more than 50 percent in the 2014-15 school year, and complaints of sexual harassment spiked, reports the Associated Press. A senior defense official says the sharp increases were due largely to students’ growing confidence in the reporting system and expanded awareness programs that over the past several years have included training, videos and information sessions. The programs are aimed at making victims more aware of the reporting process and more comfortable seeking help.
The dramatic increases raise nagging questions about whether criminal assaults and harassment are on the rise or if the numbers actually reflect a growing willingness of victims to come forward. There were 91 reported sexual assaults at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado – compared to 59 during the 2013-14 school year. Reports of assaults went up at all three of the schools, but the number nearly doubled at the Air Force Academy, jumping from 25 to 49. The number of sexual harassment complaints spiked by 40 percent, to a total of 28 during the last school year. The most sexual harassment complaints were at the Naval Academy, with 13. There were seven at West Point and eight at the Air Force Academy.