Sunday, February 24, 2013

Think Sexual Victimization is Not a Leadership Issue? Think Again.

The fallout from sexual victimization does not only affect the persons being victimized. From an article published in the November 2012 issue Journal of Interpersonal Violence, researchers examined the extent of unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, sexual coercion, and rape within the last academic year and their effects on cadets' and midshipmen's perceptions of their leadership's morality and intolerance for sexual victimization.

They found those military cadets who were sexually victimized had significantly more negative views of their leadership's morality and intolerance for sexual victimization than nonvictims. That's not surprising. Unfortunately, it means that these military members continue their progression in their military careers, but the feelings and experiences forever affect their interactions with others and flavor their responses to situations they encounter in the military, not always for good.

Leaders have an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their subordinates. This includes establishing a climate that does not condone these behaviors and that actively works to eliminate or, if possible, to rehabilitate members who display these behaviors. It also means providing emotional and moral support to the victims.

When all is said and done, it happened on your watch.

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