Readers have likely heard several recent media accounts of alleged sexual harassment practices in various military branches. One particularly scandalous allegation of sexual harassment and/or assault was brought against 33 training instructors.

Fortunately, the press coverage may have gotten through to top military personnel, if the speaking engagements of a noted sex crime prevention expert are any indication. The expert, Chris Kilmartin, is also a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington. He was recently hired to deliver his message at three military bases. In addition, the Air Force Academy has retained him for an 11-month teaching project in its behavioral sciences department.

According to the expert, change must start at the highest levels. Despite a rapidly diversifying demographic in civilian work environments, the military may still be a predominantly male culture. Given the military’s command structure, a top down approach may indeed by the most efficient way to accomplish systemic change, both in terms of preventing sexual assault and in handling reports of violations.

Attention to sex crime prevention and response protocols is needed, given the high incidence of alleged sex crimes in the armed forces. According to data from the U.S. Department Defense, as many as 26,000 military members may have been victims to some degree of sexual assault in 2012. Although a sex crimes attorney might caution that allegations can sometimes be unfounded, the establishment of a response protocol will ensure that such alleged sex crimes are investigated and tried fairly. A consisrtent approach will benefit plaintiffs and criminal defendants alike.

Source: airforcetimes.com, “Expert: Start at the top to prevent sex crimes,” Kristin Davis, July 2, 2013