Australian Defense Force Academy is a special institution that houses cadets and allows them to work, study, and socialize. The nature of the environment has acted as a hotbed for incidences of abuse, sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault. There are a number of females at the institution who felt that they were being treated fairly and equally and incidences and reports of sexual abuse would only lead to their success being undermined. However, there is another group of females who have been treated unfairly and this has led to their abuse. There have been incidences of behavior that is unacceptable including sexual harassment. The abuse has ranged from single incidences to abuse in multiple occasions (Bainbridge, Perry, & Kulik, 2018, p128).
There had been several recorded cases of abuse at the Australian Defense Force Academy. The abuse has spanned from when the academy was established in 1986 to the present time. The female cadets in the academy had raised concerns over being abused sexually by members of a higher rank. Other females had explained that they had been on the receiving end of more than one type of abuse during their duration at the academy.
Who was responsible?
Senior officers and staff members at the base often sexually abused their younger recruits or forced them to abuse each other. 42 reports of the abuse reported abuse by their fellow cadets. Other cadets experienced abused from members with a high ranking in the academy such as supervising staff and the medical team while other experienced abused from their fellow cadets and the staff at the academy.
How did it affect the organization as a whole?
The academy is viewed by the public to have lost its moral compass since it was abusing younger cadets of unequal power. The perspectives of females in the academy has changed since they feel that reporting any abuse they are experiencing might negatively affect their career in the future. The number of female cadets that has been enrolling in the academy in the past years have reduced drastically.
Who are the main stakeholders (peoples, groups?)
The majority of abuse that happened in the academy was performed on women. All the females who were abused were cadets in the institute. The abusers in the academy were either high-ranking staff in the insertion or staff members.
How are they affected?
Northcut & Kienow (2014, p250) explain that survivors of abuse in the institution suffered from psychological and physical trauma. This trauma was increased since the victims were of a young age and far away from the comfort of their families and homes. The victims had a change in behavior which impacted their careers and mannerisms. Their studies at the academy were also affected since their mental capabilities were jeopardized which decreased their performance and concentration.
What are their interests?
The survivors of sexual abuse had the interest of prosecuting individuals who abused them sexually. The sexual abusers have the interest of proving themselves not guilty of sexual abuse.
How important or serious are their concerns?
Since the establishment of the academy in the 1980s, a number of female cadets had come forward to report that they had been sexually abused by their senior officers while in the academy. This made their concerns serious since a taskforce had been set up to investigate these claims and prosecute the accused.
Organizational Failures (Factors that Contributed to the Failure)
The majority of cadets in the institution took alcohol excessively. Pharmacological effects of alcohol resulted in minimizing the cognitive functions of the officers while their inhibitions were reduced. After the consumption of alcohol, the person loses empathy towards their victim and often has no consideration of the long-term results of their deeds. Furthermore, alcohol distorts the behavior surrounding the person such that they interpret the behavior to what they expected to occur. For example, if a person is looking for sexual activities, then they might interpret the willingness of a woman to talk or dance as a provocative suggestion to engage in sex (Brignone et al., 2016, p583).
The senior-ranking officers often had the perception that they could abuse the power they held without being held accountable. The officers felt that they possessed the power to share images and videos of their female counterparts without permission and no charges would be brought up against them, even if the case was reported. Complainants of abuse were threatened and bullied by their fellow officers from reporting other cases.
Individuals who complained about abuse to their officers often became singled out by their fellow cadets as a no-hope, odd-ball, or slacker encouraging more forms of abuse. Others became excluded by their fellow cadets. Individuals who also performed poorly in group-tasks and made their whole team to be punished also faced undeserving cases of punishment from their cadet counterparts.
It is theorized that individuals who were abused sexually as children or were exposed to violence in their household at a young age are more likely to assault others sexually during their adult years. The theory of victim-to-victimizer states that a child who has been sexually abused as a child is likely to duplicate the trauma on their victim while in their adult years. Studies that have examined adult rapists and child molesters have developed a link between child molestation and adult sexual penetration. The traumatic experiences that the children might have experienced makes them have a decreased rate of empathy while dealing with their counterparts (Goewert & Norton, 2013, p25).
Cadets who had been exposed to sex early in age and have had multiple sexual partners are more likely to become sexual predators during their adult years. These individuals might be linked to sexual assault since they are more interested in sexual encounters and the frequency of them having sexual encounters offers them opportunities to engage in coercive sexual behaviors.
The majority of male cadets in the academy felt that their fellow cadets who were being abused deserved what was being done to them since they were unsuitable or weak. The cadets had the behavior of making jokes about abusing situations such as ‘scrubbing’ which involved scrubbing a dirty person with a brush with hard bristles or ‘blanket bashing’ which involved wrapping a person in a blanket and punching them. The majority of the officers felt that the jokes were harmless and if they were found out by their senior officers, then no actions would be taken against them.
The majority of techniques that were used for abusing victims were consistent throughout, despite some of the victims being abused in the 1980s. Some of these sexually deviant methods suggested that they had been passed down from one generation of abusers to the next. The individuals who suffered from this abuse never reported these cases since it was implied that they were weak or had become gay. If a person was noted as being a homosexual, then they were shunned upon since nobody could question their abuse.
Researchers have in the past examined the link between sexual assault and rape myths. Wilson et al. (2014, p250) explain that these myths are misconceptions that individuals hold that give them the leeway to justify their actions of rape. Some of these myths include men having the misconceptions that women unconsciously want to be sexually abused or women dress and walk provocatively to incite men into raping them. Other officers have traits of hyper masculinity where they believe that expressions of violence and sexually abusing women is manly. This allows the men to be dominating over the women especially the ones who are disrupting the traditional roles that are prescribed to women since they are challenging their masculinity.
The environment in the academy was male-dominated. The presence of females among the sea of cadets encouraged them to be mistreated. During the occurrence of abuse, some females had reported being ambushed by 5-7 cadets and being overpowered hence they had no strength to fight from being abused.
Abuse in the academy thrived since the cadets were discouraged from reporting abuse cases while there were no secure means through which the abuse could be reported. There were inadequate policies in place and there were no satisfactory procedures that could be followed whilst reporting an abuse.
Staff members in the academy were inexperienced in supervising the cadets who were of mixed sexes. Some of the facilities they shared including bathrooms. This allowed the male cadets to dominate over their female counterparts. Furthermore, the staff of the academy that was tasked with supervising over the female cadets were the ones that were sexual predators.
Reports of abuse were inadequately managed Alfes, Shantz, Truss, and Soane (2013, p.331) argue that the numbers of individuals who had reported being abused were either not satisfied with the response received or the results that their senior officers executed. Some of the cadets were subjected to discipline and punishment after reporting the abuse while staff members failed to execute the necessary steps to seek out more information about the abuse allegations. Female cadets often failed to report further cases of abuse since they viewed no actions were being taken to handle the matter. Other complainants were subjected to questioning that was unreasonable and insensitive (Brosseau, 2017, p.361)
After a complaint of abuse had been filed by an officer, the officers at the academy made no moves to investigate the case due to a number of reasons. This included not believing the abuse had actually taken place, the abuse case was seen as inconsequential, the officers might also have been discouraged by their fellow officers from pursuing the case, the officers would often be viewed as weak when they reported abuse, and abuse cases were viewed by senior officers as a normal process of training.
What changes were implemented?
High- quality staff has been employed by the academy to supervise the cadets who are of mixed sexes since they are equipped with the skills necessary. The staff members have undergone training to enable them to deal with specific issues in an environment that has male and female sexes. The academy has set up a panel to review the instances of increased alcohol consumption by cadets. Furthermore, the academy has changed its leadership body to ensure the reforms set in place are established while changing the cultural environment (Kimerling, 2017, p.643).
What did these changes hope to improve?
Changes in staff hoped to reduce the instances of abuse by the staff members while equipping staff members with the skills needed in running an academy. The changes hope to reduce the risks that are associated with different genders of cadets living in the same environment. The introduction of Residential Support Officers (RSOs) in the academy hopes to provide the cadets with role models that they could interact with.
Who will benefit from the changes?
All the members of the academy will benefit from the implemented changes. This is because both the male and female cadets would not have to live or study in fear of being sexually abused by their peers or seniors. Staff members have gained skills that would ensure they fulfill their responsibilities while making a human capital investment in their careers due to these skills (Purce, 2014 p.69). The number of students enrolled in the academy is expected to increase since there have been several changes implemented to deal with the issues that discouraged students from enrolling.
How effective were they?
The changes implemented have become effective since they have allowed victims of abuse to report instances of abuse. They are also effective since they cater to the needs and the wishes of the abused victims. The institution has accepted that it has made mistakes in the past that allowed some members to become abusers and others victims but has accepted its cause in the matter and has set up policies and guidelines to rectify the situation (Hewitt, 2017, p.105).
There is a need to change the perspective of the academy to ensure that cadets report abuse and that no negative consequences would befall them. There should be policies set in place to ensure that academy discourages drinking of alcohol by the cadets as long as they are in the environment of ADFA. This is because alcohol has been linked to the various negative behaviors in the long-run. Security and safety in the academy should be increased to ensure that unacceptable behavior is discouraged. There should be a mandatory psychological evaluation for students before they enroll in the academy to help them deal with any underlying issues they might be battling (Rosellini et al., 2017, p733).
The Australian Defense Forces Academy is an institution that mentors young individuals who will finally graduate and join the Australian Defense Forces. However, there have been cases of abuse that arose that ranges from sexual abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, physical abuse, and harassment. There have been changes implemented in place to ensure that such incidences are mitigated. There is hope that in the future the number of students enrolled in the academy would increase.
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