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Lackland recruits in Texas take abuse survey

Dec. 2, 2013 - 12:41PM   |  
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SAN ANTONIO — Recruits at a Texas Air Force base where more than two dozen instructors were convicted of sexual abuse and other wrongdoing have been given a voluntary survey designed to help determine if the problems persist.

Recruits at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland began taking the survey in late October, and so far no new cases of alleged wrongdoing by instructions have come to light, the San Antonio Express-News reported Monday.

Gen. Edward Rice Jr. asked the RAND Corp. to launch a yearlong study and craft the survey, which includes 150 questions — some graphic — about whether a recruit has been subjected to sexual assault or harassment, or sexual advances by instructors.

"During (basic military training), did anyone show you private areas of their body or make you show them private areas of your body when you didn't want to?" one question asks.

Twenty-six instructors have been convicted of rape, sexual assault, and having inappropriate relationships with trainees, including consensual sexual relationships, going back to 2008. Instructors are barred from having sexual relationships with students. Male trainers were accused of mainly preying on female recruits.

The scandal has led the Air Force to tighten its training rules, and it is the first military branch to conduct such an anonymous survey. More than 2,000 recruits have taken the survey.

Col. J.D. Willis, the command's deputy director for technical training, said early results show some recruits have concerns about bullying from fellow trainees.

"The social scientists have told us that collecting this (data) for about a year is probably a good point at which to have a baseline, a solid baseline, of what the perceptions are and what the experiences are," Willis said. "Over time we'll begin to see what the collective environment looks like, and then once we have that, I think it will help us to know what changes we can make to improve it."

Rice, the former head of the air training command, said he believes the survey will help commanders "connect dots with and then understand where we've got pockets of issues that we need to address."

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