Sunday, September 7, 2008

Military:Study: More sex assaults occur than reported

Study: More sex assaults occur than reported

Prevention program’s director says new approach is making some progress
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Sep 7, 2008 8:56:01 EDT

The director of the Pentagon’s program to prevent and respond to sexual assault in the ranks is not surprised at a government investigation’s conclusion that far more rapes and other sexual assaults are being committed than reports indicate.

It’s one of the nation’s most underreported crimes, period, said Kaye Whitley, director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

But that doesn’t mean the data the Pentagon has been collecting since 2004 are meaningless.

“It does tell us something,” Whitley said in an Aug. 27 interview at her Rosslyn, Va., office.

“It does tell us they’re occurring, it tells us where, it tells us who. So it’s a start.

“Our civilian counterparts struggle with this as well. I mean, there’s no way of knowing how many are out there. But hopefully, what we will be doing is creating a climate so that people will feel comfortable with coming forward.”

The July 31 Government Accountability Office report also questioned other aspects of the military’s approach to sexual assault prevention and response, saying training programs lack consistent effectiveness; some local program coordinators are part-timers; some commanders do not support the program; and the Pentagon’s guidance suffers when applied to deployed and joint environments.

The GAO did note that the Pentagon “has taken positive steps to respond to congressional direction” and that the Coast Guard “on its own initiative has made similar progress.”

Whitley largely acknowledged the findings, saying she is glad to have the report “because it gives me the backing to get things done. But almost everything they recommended, we were doing something in the area anyway.”

Whitley had been expected to address GAO’s concerns at a July 31 congressional hearing.

But her boss, Michael Dominguez, the Pentagon’s No. 2 personnel official, declined to let her appear, although she had met previously with lawmakers and their staffs numerous times.

Whitley said that despite GAO’s concerns, and criticism by some lawmakers, the Pentagon’s program, launched in February 2004, is making headway.

“We think we have done an incredible amount in a very short time. But we’re also finding out there’s still a lot more to do.”

GAO visited 14 installations and found that 52 percent of service members who had been sexually assaulted over the preceding 12 months had not reported the assaults.

Whitley acknowledged that figure, but noted the Pentagon’s “restricted reporting” policy has benefited 1,896 service members who might otherwise not have been treated.

That policy, introduced in 2005, gives victims who are reluctant to report the crime the option of obtaining treatment and counseling without making a report.
go here for more

No comments:

Post a Comment

If it is not helpful, do not be hurtful. Spam removed so do not try putting up free ad.