Time Magazine recently ran an editorial suggesting that the military is facing a huge issue that involves all service members; a crime, that when committed, is demoralizing to all involved and has lifelong impact – sexual assault and sexual harrassment.
I had the opportunity to ask this very question to Carolyn Collins, Chief, Sexual
Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Division, and Mr.
Charles Cosgrove, General Attorney in the Office of the Judge Advocate
General, Criminal Law Division, how the military is tackling this “huge issue” and their responses are encouraging.
First off, sexual assault and harrassment is not just a military issue – in our communities, law enforcement officials believe only about 18% of the crimes are reported. In the military, approximately 33% of the crimes are reported. The reason? Dependable systems for reporting are in place. The military has for years, and even more so in recent years, stepped up its prevention training – to the point of being recognized as a national leader in sexual assault and harrassment prevention.
And this is no easy task. We’ve all heard or seen the advertisement “what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas” and depending on how you interpret this ad, it could mean a number of things – but it is suggestive in that “perhaps” you could cross a morale boundary and get away with it. Our younger generation is inundated by “compromising and suggestive” ads all the time and so right and wrong is sometimes, in their minds, not so black and white.
As a result, those between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most frequent offenders. While I believe most parents raise their children to be good, wholesome, law-abiding adults – crimes still happen. So prevention training is needed.
The JAG corp recently added to their ranks 15 prosecutors who specialize in sexual assault cases, a number of sexual assault investigators around the world to track down offenders, forensic lab folks to process the evidence correctly and specialists who are experts in victim trauma support.
This month marks National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and is an opportunity for the Army and other branches to re-emphasize its ongoing commitment to eliminate sexual harassment and assault in the services, and to highlight ongoing initiatives to
aggressively address these issues.
While Hollywood likes to paint these scenarios in life and our military as “crimes of passion” that often the two individuals work through, it couldn’t be farther from the truth – when these crimes happen, it is devastating. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, contact 911 or call the National Center for Victims of Crime Victim Service Helpline, 1-800-FYI-CALL or 1-800-211-7996 (TTY/TDD).
To learn more about how to eliminate this crime in your area, contact the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
originally published here