Sexual assault reports at the West Point military academy doubled last year from the year prior, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. In total, 50 incidents were reported over the 2016-2017 school year, compared to 26 in 2015-2016.
The data was published in an as-yet unreleased report viewed by AP. The number of sexual assaults reported at West Point has increased for four consecutive years, AP noted, starting with the 2013-2014 school year. West Point is the nation's preeminent institution for Army hopefuls; two other major academies, for the Navy and Air Force, saw "only slight increases" in sexual assault reports, AP said.
After an anonymous survey taken in 2017 discovered that sexual assault and misconduct at the U.S.'s various military schools is underreported, administrators at the West Point campus in New York took "proactive and deliberate initiatives" to make it easier for victims to speak out. One such reform, AP said, was to allow for anonymous reporting that did not go through official channels.
West Point officials thus argue that the increased incidence of reports may actually be a sign of progress. "I'm very encouraged by the reporting," said West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen. The school also relocated its sexual assault reporting office to a more convenient and discreet location on campus, AP noted, in hopes of being more amenable to victims.
Still, AP remains skeptical that the jump in reports is a reflection of outreach, not assaults. "The dramatic and consistent increases may suggest more assaults are happening," AP writes. Read more at The Associated Press. Kelly O'Meara Morales