By Brent Wucher, Pentagram EditorApril 28, 2017
Fostering a culture in which any act of sexual assault or sexual harassment will not be tolerated takes a team approach.
For this reason, Military District of Washington Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program Manager, Marcellus Anderson surrounds himself with a group of individuals that have a passion for what they do and they understand that they are the voice for those that may not have a voice.
"I have an outstanding team, I tell them that all the time," said Anderson. "They are the 'A-team,' I take no credit for what they do."
Anderson's main requirement of them is passion.
The MDW SHARP program's area of responsibility covers a large region with many different organizations that fall under its responsibility. Training that works at one organization or installation may not work as well on another. Passion must work in conjunction with adaptability and a proactive approach.
"They (MDW SHARP team) work outside the box, we have our guidance from higher, but what I ask of them is to adapt to their area," said Anderson.
Having "the pulse" of the community allows his team to provide the passion and adaptability and move away from the typical required training. Another integral aspect of the training is the ability to relate to the audience.
"As a SHARP professional, I need to know what people are connected with and how it impacts education, training and services capabilities," said Priscilla Ross, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall installation SHARP. "One of my strategies is to obtain feedback from people and take the initiative to meld, as much as possible, SHARP program focus with personal focus."
Ross also said, by combining her focus and feedback she is able to develop understanding by taking into consideration personal experiences and perceptions.
"I try to have our advocates (victim advocates) make the training personal," said Anderson. "A 50-year-old training officer compared to a specialist who is 20 years old is a big difference and they can't necessarily relate to each other, but if you say how many of you has a teenager, I just drew that 50-year-old in. Now they have a connection."
Passion and adaptability are important traits for SHARP program instructors and victim advocates. Another vital part of the equation is being proactive. According to Anderson developing a proactive approach is the next step in the evolution of the Army's SHARP program.
"We're trying to get left of the 'bang' by being proactive. How do we, not necessarily identify offenders, but identify those traits we can eliminate so we can keep someone from becoming an offender." said Anderson.
A proactive approach also includes educating and building awareness among possible victims to make them more aware of situations and individuals that could put them at risk.
"Let's get away from the death by power point," said Anderson. "Let's make it more interactive, more interesting. We listen to the surveys by the students of our training and we've adapted."
Pentagram Editor Brent Wucher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.