The rate of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the U.S. Coast Guard is significantly lower than in most other U.S. military services, according to a survey released Wednesday by a Santa Monica-based think tank.
Among the more than 39,000 active-component Coast Guard members, between 180 to 390 experienced one or more criminal sexual assaults in the past year, according to estimates from a large survey of Coast Guard members conducted by the Rand Corp.
This represents 3 percent of women and 0.3 percent of men in the Coast Guard active component, according to Rand.
The Coast Guard rates of sexual assault are significantly lower than for men and women in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, even after accounting for demographic and other differences, according to the survey.
Rates of past year sexual assaults in the Coast Guard were comparable to Air Force rates.
The 2014 Rand Military Workplace Study surveyed a large number of U.S. service members to ask about sexual assaults, sexual harassment or gender discrimination. It’s one of the largest such surveys ever conducted of the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the think tank. Findings for the other military services were released earlier this month.
The new report validates the initial findings from a study published in December 2014 and reveals new details about the frequency of criminal sexual assault against U.S. Coast Guard members, the nature and context of those assaults, and how the assaults compare to those reported by members of military services that fall under jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Defense, Rand researchers said.
The report also provides more detail on the nature of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the U.S. Coast Guard, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
“We find rates of sexual assault in the Coast Guard are low in comparison to most other military services, other than the U.S. Air Force, a difference that is not explained by any of the characteristics of the Coast Guard or its personnel that we have examined,” said Andrew Morral, a senior behavioral scientist at Rand.
“Identifying what it is about the Coast Guard and Air Force that can explain their comparatively low rates of sexual assault could lead to improved interventions to reduce sexual assault not just in the military, but in civilian communities and institutions, as well,” he said.
Among assaults against women in the Coast Guard in the past year, the assailant was another member of the military in 77 percent of all cases.
That rate is significantly lower than the proportion of women assaulted by a member of the military across the Department of Defense services — 89 percent — although the proportion among sexually assaulted women in the Coast Guard was similar to that of the Air Force.
The rate of sexual assault against Coast Guard men was so low that even with the study’s large sample size, too few victims were identified to reliably characterize assaults against men, the researchers said.
According to a broad survey released May 1, sexual assault remains a problem in non-Coast Guard branches of the military, with more than 20,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact occurring in 2014.