The latest data showed that it’s the fourth consecutive year where sexual assault reports have increased at the New York-based U.S. Military Academy. Fifty cases were reported during the 2016 to 2017 school year, and 26 were reported during the 2015 to 2016 school year. While reports at West Point have skyrocketed, reports at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado only increased minimally.
The goals of the military academies were to eradicate such misconduct. Officials at West Point noted that reports have grown because they want victims to come forward. However, the startling increase could also suggest a growth in assaults.
“I’m very encouraged by the reporting,” Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, told the AP. “I recognize that people are not going to understand.” He added, “I’ve got the steel stomach to take the criticism.”
Data from an anonymous survey that came out last year showed that there were “more sexual assaults, unwanted sexual contact and other bad behavior at all three academies,” the AP reported. Twelve percent of women and two percent of men endured unwanted sexual contact; the biggest surges happening at the Army and Navy academies.
“When we saw that, we did a complete review of our strategy,” Caslen said to the AP. “We went after increased reporting.”
In the past, cadets were often made to publicly report sexual assaults. However, West Point has since eased back on those regulations. Now cadets can get help anonymously without making a formal report.