P is for prevention: SHARP training to help eliminate sexual harassment, assault
Sgt. Ida Irby,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
The new Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, also known as SHARP, began Oct. 1 throughout the Army. The policy change will allow leaders to be more proactive than reactive by having more enlisted SHARP personnel in the ranks.
SHARP reinforces the Army’s commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault by implementing an effective policy that focuses on awareness, prevention, training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability.
In addition to the 80-hour SHARP training, more than 400 noncommissioned officers at Fort Bliss will attend SHARPening Skills, a three-day cross training and refresher course.
“SHARP training is essential because no one is immune to abuse,” said Kimberly Cook-McDaniel, Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program manager. “The P in SHARP is for prevention. Leaders must be aware of the trends surrounding assault and harassment to focus on prevention.”
The revised SHARP program is formed from the Sexual Harassment segment of the Equal Opportunity Program, and the Sexual Assault segment is from the previous Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program – both programs combined to provide a focus on sensitive care and confidential reporting for victims of sexual assault and accountability for those who commit these crimes.
The Unit Victims Advocates have previously been the primary consultants for sexual assault victims. Currently under the new program, more than 1,500 trained VAs will support victims as SHARP-qualified NCOs in conjunction with Army Community Service.
“Every unit on Fort Bliss – down to the company level – has a SHARP representative that is fully trained and capable to provide support and guidance through the process of making a complaint of sexual assault or harassment,” said Master Sgt. Wallace J. Levy, 1st Armored Division equal opportunity adviser. “Taking care of victims is our number one priority.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 and the Department of the Army Execution Order mandates that every brigade or brigade-equivalent organization will have one full-time sexual assault response coordinator and one full-time victims advocate. The Fort Bliss commander has further mandated that each battalion and company will have one primary and alternate SHARP.
“Sexual harassment can be prevented through training and good leadership. We are all leaders and will not allow our battle buddies to be sexually harassed without intervention,” said Levy. ”Sexual harassment that is not corrected on the spot will often lead to sexual assault. All leaders must ensure that the workplace is a professional environment, and we must all communicate effectively and manage conflict.”
According to Sgt. 1st Class Eliodoro Molina, a broadcast journalist in the 24th Press Camp Headquarters, Fort Bliss has a Criminal Investigation Division Special Victims Unit to address crimes of sexual nature. Molina has been working with the EO and SHARP program for more than two years.
During the refresher course, Molina said that the Army Community Service is doing a great job advocating for Soldiers who need support for domestic violence, family advocacy and sexual assault. Nevertheless, under the new policy leaders should monitor the victims in the ranks and ensure they are getting the care that they need.
“Prevention is the most important key to eliminating sexual assault,” said Molina. “Creating a deterrent in the ranks will help troops feel more comfortable knowing that someone in their unit can help them out or look out for them. After building a rapport with Soldiers they can say, ‘Hey, I can trust this guy,’ and trust is critical to the support we provide.”
There is zero tolerance for personnel who sexually harass or assault anyone within the Fort Bliss community. There are a multitude of services available for victims of sexual assault at Fort Bliss, including Army Community Service, Family Advocacy Program, medical treatment facilities, Wellness Fusion Campus, chaplains and the Staff Judge Advocate.
The long-term result of the new program is to minimize Soldier-on-Soldier attacks by refining prevention strategies for Soldiers, civilians and leaders. The Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for Fiscal Year 2011 reports 1,366 unrestricted reports, or 56 percent, involved allegations of servicemember-on-servicemember sexual assault. In the unrestricted reports made to the department, the majority of offenses alleged were in three categories: rape, aggravated sexual assault and wrongful sexual contact.
For more information on SHARP classes throughout fiscal 2013, contact your unit troop school NCO. The classes at Fort Bliss are scheduled for Oct. 22 through Nov. 2 and Nov. 26 through Dec. 7.
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