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Sexual Violence: Actions Needed to Improve DoDs Efforts to Address the Continuum of Unwanted Sexual Behaviors


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Unwanted sexual behaviors in the militaryincluding sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence involving sexual assaultundermine core values, unit cohesion, combat readiness, and public goodwill. Recent studies suggest that these behaviors are part of a continuum of harm, which DOD defines as a range of interconnected, inappropriate behaviors that are connected to the occurrence of sexual assault and that support an environment that tolerates these behaviors. Senate Report 114-255 included a provision for GAO to review efforts by DOD to prevent unwanted sexual behaviors in the military. GAO assessed the extent to which DOD has (1) policies on sexual harassment that include CDC principles and relevant legislative elements; (2) processes for maintaining and reporting consistent data on incidents of unwanted sexual behaviors; and (3) overarching efforts, including a prevention strategy, to address unwanted sexual behaviors across the continuum of harm. GAO reviewed DOD policies and pertinent databases, and interviewed agency officials. GAO recommends that DOD fullyinclude in its new policy on sexual harassment CDCs principles for sexual violence prevention and mechanisms for anonymous reporting, develop standard data elements and definitions for reporting sexual harassment incidents, and incorporate in its overarching prevention strategy elements key for a long-term, results-oriented strategy. DOD generally concurred with the recommendations.



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