We must put an end to sexual assaults against our shipmates. Department of Defense and Navy leaders deserve credit for highlighting these serious offenses and their impact on victims and readiness. But more must be done.
The new Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, an update to the previous Sexual Assault Victim Intervention program, is a step in the right direction. The first mission listed on the program’s website (www.sapr.mil) is “prevention through training and education programs.” That is a worthwhile goal, but this objective and including the word “prevention” in the title do not address root causes of sexual assault or identify potential perpetrators.
DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), the agency responsible for the armed forces’ programs, should commission a study to determine commonalities among past sexual offenders to prevent individuals with those attributes from joining the military. We already know that many assaults involve alcohol use (by perpetrators and victims), but other factors may be common among the criminals who already have committed these acts.