Reports of sexual assault increased last year on two out of three military college campuses in the U.S., according to data recently obtained by the Associated Press. Reported instances of sexual misconduct also spiked across all three military academies.
The two campuses that experienced a rise in reported assaults—the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York—also saw the largest increases in sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado saw a slight decrease in reported assaults, from 49 in 2015 to 32 in 2016.
Overall, reported assaults across all three campuses fell from 91 in 2015—a 54 percent increase from the previous year—to 86 in 2016. (For perspective, each academy has around 4,000 to 4,500 students.)
For the last few years, Pentagon and military officials have attributed the rise in assault cases to students feeling more confident and safe reporting such instances. And yet, even when military students were surveyed anonymously, the data show an increase in unwanted sexual contact since 2015, with 12 percent of women and 2 percent of men having endured some form of sexual misconduct.
Issues of sexual assault and misconduct are nothing new for the military. According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense, over 20,000 active members of the military were sexually assaulted in 2014. Reports of sexual assault were also significantly higher in an active-duty environment than in the military reserves.