An Associated Press investigation into sex assault among children on U.S. military bases has led to changes within the Pentagon’s school system and how the Defense and Justice Departments handle such cases. Some of the reforms include:
Lawmakers required the Defense Department to create a new, centralized database for all child-on-child sexual assault reports and a military-wide policy for responding to such reports.
The Pentagon’s social services provider, the Family Advocacy Program, must review all reports and recommend, as needed, treatment, counseling or other interventions. The program received $10 million in funding.
The military’s school system, the Department of Defense Education Activity, must improve how it reports and tracks incidents of student-on-student sexual assault and other misconduct.
Protections afforded U.S. public school students under Title IX, a federal law used to combat campus sex assault and harassment, were extended to children in the Pentagon’s education system. They include new training for employees and the appointment of complaint coordinators for each school.
The military must study whether to share jurisdiction over these abuse cases with state authorities. State juvenile justice systems have more experience and resources to handle childhood sex assaults than the federal system, which on many military bases has jurisdiction over civilian crimes.
The Justice Department says it created a tracking system for child-on-child sex offenses referred from military bases and is studying other changes.
The Pentagon’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office are investigating the military’s handling of child-on-child sexual assault.