FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Sept. 24, 2015) -- The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention team set out to bridge the generation gap toward achieving cultural change during the "Not in My Squad … Not in My Army, We are Trusted Professionals," SHARP summit held in Baker Theater Friday.

The purpose of the summit was to provide the Army's emerging leaders with a better understanding of the culture of Soldiers just entering the Army, challenges the community faces and how to rid organizations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

"We are here to provide the team leader through company commander with the confidence they need for intervention and prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault," according to Master Sgt. Michael Cassidy, the summit's master of ceremonies.

Representatives from Waynesville High School and Missouri University of Science and Technology, spoke, along with military and civilian panel members from a variety of experience and leadership levels.

"We have educators here, because company-level leaders are dealing with a generation of individuals who are entering the Army from either high school or college," Cassidy said.

Courtney Long, Waynesville High School principal, provided insight into the diverse population of nearly 1,600 high school students who enroll each year.

"We have phenomenal students," Long emphasized. "We're just not naïve enough to think that these things (sexual harassment and assault) don't happen."

Long talked about the differences between attending high school in the '80s versus today.

"If you think the whole world's getting old, but I'm not, you may be several decades removed from high school," she said. "Many things are the same. Many things are different, such as increased supervision, cameras and security guards."

Long mentioned that generational factors of informal speech, pop culture and social media make it challenging to teach students where to draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate language and actions.

"Because of the courage of groups like the Army, we have the courage to address the situation of sexual harassment and assault too," the 17-year veteran of the Waynesville School District said.

Long said schools are taking the same approach as the Army; to change conditions and teach youth.

Neil Outar, director of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Missouri S&T, said people may see higher education and the military as different, but they have a lot in common.

"We all have an obligation to people who are on our campuses and on our bases. Our duties don't end when people leave our force," he said.

"We explain to people in real-world terms what consent means at S&T and what it means when students leave the university," he added.

"If we do not make it very clear what our community standards are, we have failed," said Outar, who oversees investigations into gender-based discrimination.

People come from all different backgrounds and comfort levels of what they are willing to talk about sexually. In some cultures, you don't talk about sex at all, he said.

Outar said his priority is to talk to students in their language, figure out where they are, and bring them along, because it's a difficult subject.

"As educators, if we can't speak to them honestly about it, then what hope do they have for actually finding their way?" he said.

Outar said he uses a euphemism for making a cup of coffee to educate students about consent.

"Someone comes to your house and you say 'Would you like a cup of coffee?' and they say 'No,' -- Do you still make them a cup of coffee?" he asked. "No, you don't … that would be stupid."

He added, that if the only thing that keeps someone from doing wrong is the threat of punishment, then the battle to prevent sexual assault and harassment is lost.

Jessica Gargas, MS&T health education specialist, said the university strongly endorses the bystander intervention law and teaches peers, who are usually in the best position to help, how to intervene.

Last year, the university trained more than 500 students as part of "STEP UP!" a bystander intervention program, she said.

Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, said, "We're trying to take men and women who come to us from college, from high school, from across America, with all different levels of experience, raised all different ways with all different value sets, we're trying to teach them our values, which we know are critical for success in combat."

"We've got to be able to trust each other. We've got to be able to treat each other with dignity and respect. We've got to be able to be a team," he said.

Savre said, more than just statistics, he needs commanders and NCOs to speak up if something doesn't look right in their organizations and set conditions by teaching what right looks like.

(Editor's note: The SHARP Resource Center is located in Building 315, phone: 573.596.0131, ext. 60600/65711, and is available for information, guidance and training. The SHARP 24/7 helpline can be reached at 573.855.1327.)