Military Sexual Assault Scandal Can't Be Handled By the Military Alone

After a recent influx in reports of sexual assault, military recruiting services plan on developing more stringent regulatory practices to protect interested parties. Despite existing policies prohibiting fraternization in the U.S. military, the prevalence of sex scandals with minors interested in joining the U.S. military continues. Given the steady increase of sexual assaults in military services, the Defense Department has been recently cautioned by President Obama. Obama told reporters, "If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged — period." Lawmakers and members of Congress have also expressed their extreme disappointment with the lack of punishment and policies concerning prevention of sexual misconduct. Based on previous rulings, the victims of sexual assault may be dissuaded from reporting the crimes given instances of clemency granted to sex offenders by two Air Force generals.

Most of the victims in this distressing ordeal are female minors wishing to join military services. It's difficult to gather substantial data on this matter as the Defense Department does not keep figures on recruiters accused of sex crimes, and the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps track incidents separately, according to the Washington Post. However, a general report by the Pentagon was released estimating that up to 26,000 service members were victims of "unwanted sexual contact" in 2012, an increase of 35% since 2010, when there were about 19,300 cases. Of all those occurrences last year, there were only 3,374 reported cases, still a jump of 6% over the prior year. Rep. Jackie Speir (D-Calif.) says Congress has to share some of the blame for the "broken system." Recruiters continue to undergo ethical and behavioral training in the prevention of sexual assault and misconduct; yet the allegations continue.

The cultural implications of military services, relating to sexual misconduct with minors, require further examination. A single entity should not be to blame for this social and cultural phenomenon that continues to emerge within the military space. This is not only a result of poor management of military policies and regulations, but of legislative and legal practices that have endorsed these unfortunate incidences. The lack of statistical data, the clemency of convicted sex offenders, and the invisibility of the psychological well-being of the victims promote an unsafe, destructive environment for both the victim and perpetrator. Further investigation needs to be directed towards the power dynamics within the military space in regards to minors and sexual assault as a whole. Regulatory bodies need to work together in eliminating this problematic ordeal, rather than expecting only the army services to handle the situation.