In the News
Source: The Hill
May 25 2017
A bipartisan pair of senators introduced a bill Thursday that would require military recruits to have in-person sexual assault prevention training that includes social media instruction.
“Sexual assault and disgusting online activity will continue to plague our nation and our military until we take concrete steps forward to address this horrific issue and change the culture within our society," Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in a statement Thursday.
Ernst introduced the bill with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Both are members of the Armed Services Committee.
The military continues to grapple with sexual assault within its ranks, as well as a nude-photo sharing scandal that started with the Marine Corps but has spread to the rest of the services.
The latest Pentagon report on sexual assault in the military found that an estimated 14,900 U.S. service members experienced some form of sexual assault in 2016. That’s down from 20,300 in 2014, the last time a comprehensive survey was done.
But the same report said that 58 percent of those who report their assault experience retaliation of some sort.
Additionally, the military has been rocked by allegations that troops shared nude photos of female service members online without their permission and made crude comments on the photos, including rape threats.
Under Ernst and Gillibrand’s bill, recruits in the delayed entry program would be required to undergo sexual assault prevention and response training before reporting to basic training. The training should be in person and include instruction on proper use of social media, the bill says.
Delayed entry is when someone has taken the oath of enlistment but is waiting for their boot camp report date. Such recruits often report into the recruiting station for training while they wait.
“This legislation gives the military an opportunity to lead by example, and it ensures they don’t create an ineffective computer-based teaching program to do it,” Ernst said. “The military can help prevent sexual assaults and horrific online activity from happening in the first place by sitting down and talking with service members about what is right and what is wrong.”
Gillibrand said the training prescribed by the bill would be an “important step” in making sure the entire military is properly educated in sexual assault prevention.
“We’ve seen from the Defense Department’s own sexual assault crime data and from the shameful scandal involving cyber misconduct that military sexual assault is still as pervasive as ever,” she said in a statement.
“This bipartisan bill would help make sure that all new enlistees who are waiting to enter boot camp will be trained to identify and respond to sexual assault. This is an important step toward making sure our entire military has the education and training they need to fight back against sexual assault and harassment, including on social media.”