Army launches sexual assault prevention month with summit
March 26, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 26, 2010) -- As a part of the Army's ongoing commitment to address the problem of sexual harassment/sexual assault and eliminate them from its ranks, the Army will hold its third Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault Prevention Summit in Arlington, Va., from March 29 - April 1. This summit serves as the launch event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Army Leaders at the brigade and battalion level, interested Congressional representatives and staffers, subject-matter experts from the civil sector and sexual harassment/assault prevention and response proponents will gather to discuss progress in implementing the I. A.M. Strong Campaign (Intervene, Act, Motivate). This campaign is at the core of the Army strategy to stamp out sexual harassment and assault, Army officials said.
"We're launching an updated training program at the summit that combines prevention of sexual harassment training with sexual assault prevention training," said Carolyn Collins, program manager of the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP program. "This brings unity of effort to what was once training and awareness programs once managed in multiple organizations."
The theme for this year's summit, "Hurts one. Affects all... Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty," emphasizes the importance of prevention and ties it to one of the Army's core values - duty.
The summit continues Phase II of the campaign by focusing efforts on brigade and battalion leaders and their SHARP proponents. The goal for this summit is to partner with national counterparts to build a foundation where Army community members - leaders, Soldiers, civilians and family members -- take ownership of their individual and collective roles in preventing sexual harassment and the crime of sexual assault, Collins said.
The cornerstone of the prevention strategy is the "I. A.M Strong" campaign where the letters I. A. M. stand for Intervene - Act - Motivate, Collins said. She explained that the purpose of the "I. A.M. Strong" is to encourage Soldiers to take action to prevent sexual assault and to actively foster respectful treatment of others.
The strategy consists of four integrated phases and has policy, procedure, training and assessment components, which will continue through 2014 and beyond.
The campaign kicked off its first phase, leadership commitment, at a prevention summit in September 2008. The program consists of four phases to be carried out Army-wide over a five-year period. The campaign features Soldiers as influential role models and provides peer-to-peer messages outlining the Army's intent for every Soldier to intervene to protect fellow Soldiers.
The campaign aims to help transform the Army climate to one where reporting of incidents is encouraged, and to achieve an incident-free Army - in short, for the Army to become a model for the nation in sexual assault prevention, Collins said.
Phase II of the campaign was launched in April 2009. Titled "Army-wide Commitment," this phase emphasizes the critical commitment of every leader, Soldier, and community member in preventing this crime.
The Army is half-way through this two-year phase, and Collins said the phase exit criteria is for every member of the Army to have "Ownership of Sexual Assault Prevention."
Phase III will be "Achieve Cultural Change" and ultimately Phase IV will be "Sustainment, Refinement and Sharing Best Practices."
"During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it's important to bring visibility to the Army's 'I.A.M Strong' program, and for leaders and trainers at all levels to conduct training and emphasize the support available to victims," said Collins. "We will also be sharing 'best practices' with them through command information media."
To facilitate battalion-level programs in 2009, Department of the Army G-1 distributed kits containing "I A.M. Strong" materials to commanders down to battalion level and sponsored command and community events to bring awareness to the need for prevention and to reduce the stigma for reporting this crime. These efforts included sponsoring the Army Soldier Show, the Army Concert Series and partnering with the BOSS program so to more effectively reach the target audience of young Soldiers.
Army G-1 has an ongoing Army-wide tour of the popular production known as "Sex Signals," which has been shown more than 600 times, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
G-1 continues to support commands with this training in FY10.
"The Army is currently scheduling the "Sex Signals Tour" to assist commands. This 90-minute program uses skits and real-life scenarios to educate Soldiers about issues such as rape and sexual assault", Collins said.
Other new Army training initiatives include distributing new training support materials for annual, pre- and post-deployment training, installation orientation training and self-study training.
Additionally, Criminal Investigation Command and the Office of the Judge Advocate General have taken steps to support victims and hold offenders accountable. These include:
Aca,!Ac hiring national experts in prosecution and investigations;
Aca,!Ac hiring and placing 30 special investigators and 15 prosecutors at Army installations with the highest occurrences of sexual assault;
Aca,!Ac hiring 35 examiners at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory;
Aca,!Ac funding specialized training with the National Advocacy Center for Army prosecutors; and
Aca,!Ac establishing a mobilized investigation training team to train all CID battalions.
"The Army's focus continues to be prevention, caring for victims, taking appropriate action against Soldiers who commit these offenses, and constant monitoring and refining of the program and its related strategies and policies," Collins said.
More information on the Army's SHARP program and coverage of the summit and events during sexual assault awareness month can be found at: <a href="http://www.preventsexualassault.army.mil/" target=Aca,!A?_blank">www.preventsexualassault.army.mil</a>.