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Senators introduce bill to train military recruits in sexual assault prevention

By ELIZABETH MEYER | The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa | Published: May 26, 2017

BURLINGTON, Iowa (Tribune News Service) — U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst introduced legislation Thursday to require sexual assault prevention training for newly enlisted service members in all branches of the military.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the Educating Service Members in Training On Prevention Act "would implement educational steps to thwart military sexual assault by mandating in-person, comprehensive sexual assault prevention training" before new recruits began basic training. 

Social media training also was included in the bill, an effort to teach service members what constitutes sexual harassment online.

"Sexual assault and disgusting online activity will continue to plague our nation and our military until we take concrete steps forward to address this horrific issue and change the culture within our society," said Ernst, a Republican and Iraq War veteran. "This legislation gives the military an opportunity to lead by example, and it ensures they don't create an ineffective computer-based teaching program to do it. The military can help prevent sexual assaults and horrific online activity from happening in the first place by sitting down and talking with service members about what is right and what is wrong."

The senators' legislation comes in the wake of a March Senate Armed Services Committee meeting where the Marine Corps commandant general testified about a sexual assault scandal in which male service members posted images online of nude female Marines without their knowledge.

A Department of Defense report found about 14,900 American service members experienced a sexual assault in 2016. That number was down from 2014 estimates of 20,300 sexual assaults.

©2017 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)
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