Lawmakers to Investigate Sexual Abuse in Junior ROTC Programs

Congressional investigators have opened a review into sexual misconduct at the US Army Reserve’s Junior Officer Training Corps program f...

Congressional investigators have opened a review into sexual misconduct at the US Army Reserve’s Junior Officer Training Corps program following reports that dozens of teenage girls were abused by their instructors.

In a letter sent Monday to military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, lawmakers said they were seeking information on the number of misconduct reports received, how they were investigated and the frequency with which JROTC school programs were inspected by the military.

They said instructors from the JROTC program, which provides training in leadership, marksmanship and civic responsibility in about 3,500 high schools across the country, serve as trusted representatives of the military in their local communities.

“Every incident of sexual abuse or harassment by a JROTC instructor is a betrayal of that trust,” wrote Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Stephen Lynch, who chairs the group’s subcommittee on national security. .

The New York Times reported last month that JROTC programs had repeatedly become a place where decorated veterans — retired as officers or NCOs — preyed on teenage students. The Times identified, over a five-year period, at least 33 JROTC instructors who had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving students, as well as numerous others charged with misconduct but never charged.

Many victims said they had turned to JROTC in high school for stability in their lives or as a pathway to military service, only to find the instructors exploiting their position to take advantage of students.

Founded over a century ago, JROTC has grown to enroll hundreds of thousands of students each year. Cadets receive training on military ranks and procedures, as well as more general topics such as public speaking and financial planning.

JROTC leaders point to research indicating the program has had a positive effect on school attendance and graduation rates, and many cadets praise the program for providing vital lessons and experiences during the formative years.

But the Times found that the instructors operated with little oversight. While certified by individual branches of the military to fill the schools’ jobs, military overseers did little to investigate problems or monitor the conduct of instructors, leaving that to the schools. The program often operates on the fringes of school campuses, with after-school or off-campus extracurricular activities that are difficult for school administrators to monitor.

In several cases identified by The Times, instructors criminally charged with misconduct had previously been the subject of complaints.

Along with requests for data and information, lawmakers requested that the Department of Defense provide a briefing to committee staff by the end of this month.

“While all JROTC instructors must complete a DOD background investigation and be certified by state or local education authorities, we remain concerned that the DOD and military services lack effective means to monitor the actions of JROTC instructors and ensuring the safety and well-being of cadets,” the lawmakers wrote. “Without sufficient oversight mechanisms in place, inappropriate behavior may continue to go undetected.”

Military branches were struggle to meet their recruiting goals, and Pentagon leaders saw the value of the high school program as a pipeline to enlistment. The U.S. Army Cadet Command found that high school students with JROTC programs were more than twice as likely to enlist after graduation.

As the military strives to attract qualified recruits, lawmakers said, the services must “redouble efforts to promote the safety, well-being, and academic and personal growth of the next generation of military leaders.” our country”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Lawmakers to Investigate Sexual Abuse in Junior ROTC Programs
Lawmakers to Investigate Sexual Abuse in Junior ROTC Programs
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