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WJBD - National News - Reports of Sexual Assaults in US Military Rose 50% Last Year

Reports of Sexual Assaults in US Military Rose 50% Last Year

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It seems a vigorous campaign by the government to get victims of sexual assault in the military to come forward was a success.

A report released Thursday by the Pentagon shows that reports of sexual assault in the military jumped 50 percent last year.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested the increase has to do with service members feeling safe to report incidents -- but he's still not happy with the high numbers.

"Sexual assault is a clear threat to the lives and the well being of the women and men who serve our country in uniform," Hagel said Thursday.

He's also not pleased with the low number of male victims reporting their assaults.

"With estimates that men comprise more than half the victims of sexual assault in the military, we have to fight the cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law," the defense secretary said.

Hagel noted that officials believe sexual assaults are still underreported, "So we must keep up the pressure and intensify our efforts to improve victim confidence in our system as we work to prevent sexual assault in the military."

He said the best way to combat these crimes is to prevent them in the first place.

"While many of my directives this past year have focused on strengthening prevention, the prevention strategy hasn't been updated since it was first drafted here in 2008 and will now be updated every two years," Hagel said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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