This App Could Help Prevent Sexual Assault in the Military
Sexual assault in the military is a growing epidemic. Assaults rose by 50 percent during the 2014-15 academic year, with 91 reported at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, along with 28 cases of sexual harassment. A new app called LiveSafe is aiming to solve this problem.
The free app is currently undergoing a six-month trail in two naval bases: Hampton Roads in Virginia, where there's an especially high number of young sailors, and Rota in Spain. Members of the Navy can use it to keep track of the whereabouts of friends who choose to send their geographical data, report anything suspicious they see, and access location-specific resources for crime victims, like legal and medical services.
Focus groups during the testing period will determine whether the app has helped prevent or address cases of sexual assault. Officials can also use it to alert sailors when they've entered a dangerous area. The Navy invested $150,000 in the app's development and testing, but U.S. Fleet Forces Command sexual assault prevention and response officer Capt. Charles Marks told Tribune News Service it was well worth the money.
"When you think about what it costs to respond to one sexual assault — you think about providing medical services, doing the investigation, doing the legal processing, providing all the victim advocacy services, the amount of time the chain of command spends in reviewing and overseeing these cases and then executing the potential disciplinary action — that one case is significantly more than the cost for the pilot," he said.
Kristina Anderson, one of the students injured in the Virginia Tech shooting, created the company behind the app, which is already in use in colleges. LiveSafe's President and CEO Carolyn Parent said its aim was to provide people with "a very simple way to help protect each other. In as little as two clicks, three clicks on their phone, [they] can make all the difference in the world."
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