5th Signal Command gets "SHARP" with Bystander Intervention training
April 1, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany (March 19, 2014) -- 5th Signal Command has continued to follow the Army's lead by aggressively addressing Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention and by making SHARP the focus of its Operation Solemn Promise campaign.
5th Signal Dragon Warriors participated in a SHARP Bystander Intervention training class at command headquarters to help strengthen awareness and provide some tools to aid in prevention.
"Bystander Intervention training incorporates strategies to intervene in a situation where a possible sexual harassment or assault may occur," said Annamaria Doby, SHARP program specialist, 5th Signal Command. "In many cases, if a bystander had intervened, the incident could have been prevented."
Each Soldier and civilian was required to complete the mandatory online training before attending the group training. The group discussion portion of the training was far more interactive according to Sgt. Leandre L. Blakely, training noncommissioned officer, 5th Signal Command.
"We watched some videos that portrayed a few awkward scenarios and then we discussed what we saw and how we would react," said Blakely. "It was more interactive and helpful than the online training."
The videos featured professional actors, acting out scenes in a real-life environment, such as a bar. The scenes were captured by a hidden camera. The reactions of the bystanders in the video varied. The first group discussions focused on the bystanders and what they did or did not do to intervene.
"Everyone doesn't have the personal courage to step up and intervene," said Doby. "Often times, we have to learn how to get over our fears and just do the right thing."
In the next section of the group discussion, Doby posed a question to several different individuals. She asked if and how they would intervene in a particular scenario shown on the video. The responses indicated intervention was necessary, but the methods varied.
"I was raised to be direct, so I really have no issue with stepping in and intervening if I suspect someone's in trouble," said Sgt. 1st Class Arthur L. Woods, senior chaplain assistant, 5th Signal Command. "But, I understand not everyone feels comfortable with that approach."
"For me, the decision to intervene is a process," said Renee N. Baldwin, protocol officer, 5th Signal Command. "If I see someone put something in another person's drink that is an easy decision. However, sometimes the signs aren't that obvious, so I really try to get enough information to make a good decision."
Doby offered a powerful tool in bystander intervention with the use of multiple bystanders intervening together.
"There is definitely power in numbers," said Doby. "As we saw in one of the videos, a woman stepped up to help another woman who was being harassed, and that inspired others to jump into action too."
"One of the methods we have been taught is to go out as a group or at least with a battle buddy," said Blakely. "But we have to stay together because a lot of these incidents happen when someone leaves the group."
Towards the end of the group discussion, Chaplain (Col.) Carleton W. Birch, 5th Signal Command offered a scenario, which he believes is too often overlooked.
"The scenarios depicted in the videos are pretty simple, but I think in real-life it's more complex," said Birch. "I think a lot of the sexual harassment and sexual assault cases come about with inappropriate consensual relationships. If we intervene when we know the relationship is wrong, we could prevent a lot of things too."
Only time will tell if the training has been effective, but Doby is optimistic about continuing to educate and train all Soldiers and civilians on the importance of SHARP Bystander Intervention.
"Although it's difficult to measure the effectiveness of Bystander Intervention training, continuing discussions on intervening can motivate professionals and establish a climate where sexual harassment and sexual assault are not tolerated," said Doby. "Everyone should take responsibility in prevention."