JROTC Sexual Abuse Problems Outlined in NY Times Report

Report finds much higher rate of JROTC sexual abuse incidents than other types of teaching, highlighting a lack of training and supervision in Junior ROTC

A special report by the New York Times warns about a concerning number of incidents involving child sexual abuse in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs, which are intended to introduce high school students to military training, but may expose teens to sexual predators.

According to the invesigation, at least 33 JROTC instructors nationwide have faced allegations of having inappropriate sexual relationships with high school students over the past five years, making incidents of JROTC sexual abuse problems at least 68% higher than what the report indicates case rates are with school teachers.

The New York Times claims it examined thousands of court documents through more than 150 public disclosure requests. In addition to high rates of sexual abuse on Junior ROTC, the report indicates that there is very little training for JROTC instructors.

Many states have no requirement for JROTC instructors to need a college degree or even a teaching certificate before being put in front of students, some of whom believe a future military career could hinge on their JROTC performance.

This has led to numerous reports of high school students, particularly girls, being pressured into sexual situations at practices, field trips, and through coercion, grooming, and sometimes outright threats of violence coming from instructors with military training.

One report detailed how a JROTC instructor told a female student that military women were expected to submit themselves sexually. Another involved an instructor blindfolding an underage girl and forcing her to kneel by his bedside with a gun to her head. Students are often threatened with violence or social and career retaliation if they tell the authorities.

Another problem, according to the report, is that JROTC programs tend to focus on schools in low-income areas. Schools where minorities are in the majority are almost three times as likely to have a JROTC program than schools where white students are in the majority.

The JROTC instructors are put into these environments with little training, and in 16 states there are no requirements for any form of certification.

It is part of growing concern over rampant sexual abuse in many institutions where adults of authority have unfettered access to children in long-respected organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church.

Concerns resurged several years ago after a grand jury report highlighted cases involving at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, involving allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.

That report indicated that the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide.

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