Posts Tagged With: United States Department of Defense

Expert on Gender and Violence To The Rescue

The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Ac...

The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christopher Kilmartin, a professor from Virginia will spend the upcoming academic
year teaching courses on gender at the (USAFA) Air Force Academy to combat
sexual assaults
.

He is a psychology instructor at
the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., and will serve as
a visiting professor at USAFA, teaching “Men and Masculinity” in
the fall and “Interpersonal Violence” in the spring.

Neither
course is required of students. But so many have registered for the lone
section of “Men and Masculinity” that the academy is considering adding
another, said Col. Gary Packard, head of the academy’s Department of
Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.

“When I looked at his
background, he became my No. 1 candidate” for the department’s visiting
professor position, Packard said. “We need him here to deal with these
issues, especially those related to masculinity.”

Kilmartin will conduct research and consult with leaders during his time at the academy, Packard said.

Kilmartin
has previously worked with the U.S. Naval Academy to revise its sexual
assault and harassment prevention curriculum. He also wrote a script for
an Army
training film on the same topic.

His knowledge of military culture “gives him credibility right from the start,” Packard said.

Another trait Packard says will serve Kilmartin well at the academy: his sense of humor.

Kilmartin is also a stand-up comedian.

“I
think the cadets will gravitate toward him,” Packard said. “More
importantly, I think commanders and leadership will connect with him as
well.”

During Kilmartin’s two-plus decades of teaching courses on masculinity, the majority of his students have been females.

That’s less likely to be the case at the academy, where the majority of students are male.

“One
of the biggest struggles in teaching that area is getting men into the
room,” said Kilmartin, the author of the textbook “The Masculine Self.”

“The
way gender roles are constructed, a lot of men don’t feel comfortable
expressing interest in it. It takes a pretty self-aware man to get
interested in gender.”

Kilmartin’s fall class will examine how
masculinity is constructed, how men are socialized and how individuals
form gender ideology.

“There’s a lot of theory in the first part”
of the class, he said. “The second part includes discussion of men’s
issues: work, mental health, physical health, relationships, sexuality,
violence, and contemporary topics like the prison problem, pornography
and prostitution.”

As part of their coursework, Kilmartin will
assign his students to journal about gender stereotypes they observe in
their everyday lives.

“It’s a really powerful assignment, he said.
“By mid-semester, they realize it’s everywhere. Then they get mad at me
because they think they can’t watch TV anymore.

“Before, they
tend to look at things uncritically. When they get a new pair of lenses
to look at the world,
it can be annoying. You can pay a price for it,
but it can be of enormous benefit as well.”

His spring class will
offer an opportunity to examine violence committed by males, a topic
that is often overlooked because “people in dominate groups have the
luxury of having their identity remain invisible,” Kilmartin said.

It will also examine the origins and consequences of, and remedies to, interpersonal violence, he added.

Kilmartin’s
short-term goal is to increase sexual assault reporting rates at the
academy so that perpetrators, most of whom are serial offenders, are
stopped, he said.

“I’m not going to come in there and do magic,
but I’d like to do something,” he said. “Sometimes we forget that these
are young adults
, that many of them don’t have a lot of experience with
relationships and sexuality. We forget that because we put them in
uniform and they look like these machines and we think they have it all
together. But they’re kids in some ways. We need to talk with them like
kids.”

His ultimate goal is to “take a public health approach and
reduce the incidence of sex assault at the academy and the military at
large
.”

Arming cadets with knowledge on the topics of gender and violence isn’t just the right thing to do, he said.

It’s good for their careers.

“We
wouldn’t dream of sending leaders out into the world without computer
skills, management skills, leadership abilities,” he said. “There is no
way any commander is going to get out in the world and not have to deal
with people in his or her command who are women, who are gay men,
lesbians, maybe even someone transgendered.

“If you don’t
understand these different forms of identity and how they play out in
your organization, you’re just not going to be a good commander.”

During
the 2011-2012 academic year, sex assault reports involving Air Force
Academy cadets increased by about 50 percent over the previous academic
year,
accounting for the majority of reported assaults across the
nation’s three military academies
, according to a Defense Department
report released late last year. (NOTE: West Point, Annapolis, and AFA at Colorado Springs are not the only military academies in the U.S.. There is a Coast Guard Academy at New London, CT..)

Cadets have attended annual sexual
assault prevention training since 2005. An increase in reporting rates
is a sign that those training sessions are working, victim advocate at
the academy told The Gazette in January. (By Erin Prater)

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Sex Assaults At Military Academies Up 60 Percent

Sex Assault Reports At Academy Up 60 Percent

Sexual assault reports at the Air Force Academy jumped nearly 60 percent during the last academic year while the prevalence of the crime remained about the same, according to a new Defense Department study.

The results, which mirror the two other service institutions — the Military Academy and the Naval Academy — signal greater victim confidence but show that efforts to reduce sexual assaults among future military leaders have been unsuccessful.

Air Force cadets made 52 sexual assault reports during the 2011-2012 year, up 58 percent from 33 in 2010-2011. They also accounted for 65 percent of the 80 reports made at all three academies, despite sim­ilar student populations.

In 44 of the 80 reports, victims said they were victimized by a fel­low cadet or midshipman, the study said. Twenty-five incidents occurred on academy grounds.

Since sex assault is one of the most under-reported crimes, the military has long relied on an anonymous survey to measure the rate of such incidents, director of the DoD Sexual Assault Preven­tion and Response Office Maj. Gen. Gary Patton said in a news conference with reporters before the release of the report Dec. 21.

Fewer than 15 percent of sexual assault victims in a college envi­ronment report the crime, accord­ing to the study. That number stands at around 11 percent at the service academies.

At the Air Force Academy, far more are making reports — about 28 percent of victims, Col. Stella Renner, vice commandant of cul­ture and climate, said in a tele­phone interview.

“While we hate to see we have sexual assaults, we are very proud we have a strong reporting cli­mate,” Renner said.

That shows cadets feel more comfortable asking for help after they are victimized and that there is increased trust in the system, she insisted.

“We’re seeing cases where vic­tims who have come forward in the past are bringing in other people they know of who may have had a situation they haven’t reported yet. Nobody’s going to tell on you. It’s private. You can start healing and moving on,” Renner said.

Reporting has been on the uptick at all three academies since 2008 and increased by 23 percent overall from the last academic year, Patton said.

“Any sexual assault is bad, and our goal is always to eliminate sexual assault,” he said. “The more we know about the incidents that do happen, the more we can help victims become survivors, [gain] insight into what’s going on” and prosecute perpetrators.

But both Patton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed concern at what they described as a persistent problem and a lack of progress in combating it.

“There is not enough progress in preventing sexual harassment and assaults,” Patton said.

In a memo, Panetta directed the institutions to find new ways to “integrate sexual assault and harassment prevention into the full spectrum of academy life and learning” and ordered them to report back March 29.

The DoD report followed a year of high-profile sex scandals in the military, from the resignation of CIA director and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus to the inves­tigation of more than two dozen military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

There was no statistical increase in incidents of sexual assault at the Air Force Academy from 2010-2011, Renner said. Sexual harass­ment decreased significantly there but remained unchanged at the Military and Naval academies, the study showed.

Victims who did not make a report indicated in the anonymous survey that they took care of the incident themselves, that they did not want anyone to know about it and did not want people gossiping about what had happened to them.

Those who chose to make a report said they needed help deal­ing with an emotional event, that they wanted to stop the offender from hurting others and that they wanted to see justice served.

Reports of sexual assaults fall into two categories: restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted reports involve law enforcement and the chain of command of the victim and the accused. Restricted reports afford victims privacy while making support services available to them.

Twenty-one of the 52 reports at the Air Force Academy were unre­stricted, Renner said.

She said the academy plans to study each of the reports. “We’ll continue to work and see if there are other things we need to consid­er. We look for trending informa­tion to see if there might be some­thing we can do from a police [change], lights, locks on doors.” Next year, the academy plans to begin bystander intervention train­ing. The training teaches cadets how to identify potentially danger­ous situations and intervene safely.

Teresa Beasley, sexual assault response coordinator at the Air Force Academy, called it “a good way ahead. I think they want to help each other,” she said of cadets. “This will give them the skills to do that.” Beasley said the academy has worked hard to raise awareness around campus. “Whenever you raise awareness, reports go up,” she said. “I consider anyone that walks in a victory.”                   (By Kristin Davis)


Air Force Times
January 7, 2013

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Color Blind Justice.

Color Blind Justice.

by London Steverson on Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 2:07am

Air Force Academy Cadets Evenson, Claxton, and Cressy.

The Air Force Academy announced on January 5 that three male cadets had been charged with sex crimes stemming from unrelated incidents between February 2010 and May 2011. Academy officials said the three cases were announced together because the investigations happened to end at about the same time.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is charged with rape. Evenson, for his part, allegedly masturbated over a cadet and ejaculated on her stomach while holding her down sometime during the month of November 2010. Between March and July of that year, he’s also suspected of forcing sex “using power or strength or restraint to her person sufficient that she could not avoid or escape the sexual conduct.” In addition, in February 2010, the Charge Sheet contends that he helped a cadet in an Honor case “in return for a dating relationship and sexual favors, requiring her to violate her probation in return for helping her, and threatening to harm her military career if she did not comply.”

Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is charged with abusive sexual assault. Claxton is charged with illicit acts in March and November of last year. In the first, he’s said to have placed a cadets hand on his penis while engaging in underage drinking. In the second, he is accused of striking a fellow cadet on the face with his fist and unbuttoning and unzipping her pants without her consent, as well as forcibly kissing and choking her.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy is charged with aggravated assault. The Cressy incidents date to May 2011. The charges state that he penetrated a female cadet’s vagina with his hand or finger, as well as his penis, while she was “substantially incapacitated.”

Evenson and Claxton face other, non-sex-related counts.

It is not clear how many cases the Air Force Academy could have prosecuted; but, at least, they did not simply try to paint the crime with a black face.

The sexual assault charges against the Air Force Cadets are serious but they are not worthy of a Court-martial. Only Cadet Robert M. Evenson, Junior deserves stronger discipline. He abused his position as an Honor Code enforcer to obtain sexual favors. He should receive a Special Court-martial, not a General Court-martial. He should be held to a higher standard of conduct because he was in a position of trust. He abused that trust by taking advantage of a younger and less mature female cadet. Article 15, Non-judicial punishment, would be the appropriate forum to dispose of all the other charges. These few incidents of bad behavior should not become the most significant factors in determining their futures. Courts-martial should be reserved for terrorists and mass murderers. To bring out the big guns for such minor offenses would be a bad lesson in judgement to teach all the other cadets in the Academy.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said in an interview the day of Panetta’s announcement that the military culture has “run amok” and the rules for handling sexual abuse need an overhaul. She has introduced a bill that would create a separate system within the military to investigate and prosecute sex crimes.

Currently, a victim’s commander might be part of the decision-making process. That creates a conflict of interest; the commander could suffer career damage if a subordinate is victimized; the commander could be a friend of the suspect; or the commander could be the suspect, Speier said.

“We’ve got to do something fairly dramatic to get the academies back on track and the military back on track,” she said.

“How do you measure prevention?”, asked Teresa Beasley, the Air Force Academy’s sexual assault coordinator.

Are these cadets simply a reflection of the same social dating forces at play in American society at large? It isn’t clear whether the disturbing news means sexual predation is on the rise at the Military academies. It could simply reflect the better efforts to encourage cadets to report any kind of unwanted sexual contact.

The Air Force Academy’s sex assault prevention campaign starts before freshman studies begin. Among other things, cadets are told the Department of Defense definition of sexual assault includes “intentional sexual contact … when the victim does not or cannot consent.”

The breadth of the definition comes as a surprise to some.

“When they come in at basic, you see the ‘deer-in-the-headlight’ look — ‘Wow, I didn’t realize I’d been assaulted,'” said Teresa Beasley.

Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith.

The Coast Guard had more than 10 cases of rape or sexual assault prior yo 2005. All of the sexual predators were white. None were prosecuted. Then, along came Webster Smith. He was African American and several women accused him of sexual assault. The Coast Guard Academy spared no effort or expense in prosecuting him in 2006. There was an attempt to make Webster Smith the poster child of sexual assault at the Coast Guard academy. It did not work.

In the book CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady I paint an accurate picture of the Coast Guard Academy sexual predator based on actual eye witness interviews. https://www.amazon.com/author/cgachall.blogspot.com

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