October 1, 2008  

Shamed into action

To the Army for its sexual assault prevention program that has been exposed for what it is: a box-check policy with no bite. How else to explain that three years after the program was established in 2004, the Army’s incident of sexual assault reports was 2.6 soldiers per thousand, the highest of all the services? And only now — following a damning GAO report and related congressional hearings — is the Army embarking on a campaign to aggressively and pro-actively end rape in the Army. Only the naïve would believe that the Army was spurred finally to act on its own volition rather than being forced into a new effort by public shame. “We’re four years into this program, and we’re kind of at a plateau,” said Carolyn Collins, the Army’s sexual assault and prevention program manager. “We’re getting out of the risk-reduction focus and moving towards prevention.” That’s the wrong way around; with rape, prevention is always the first goal, and the Army should have understood and acted on that principle a long time ago.