Army Moves to Vignette-Driven Sexual Assault Prevention Training

By Scott Gibson, US Army Combined Arms CenterAugust 18, 2021

Pilot Program Provides Alternative to PowerPoint Past
Soldiers of the 1st Signal Brigade Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Team conduct Training on April 7, 2021 at Camp Humphreys, Korea. The Army recently conducted a pilot for an updated Training Support Package for SHARP that aims to provide a more engaging learning experience for Soldiers and Army Civilians.
Soldiers of the 1st Signal Brigade Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Team conduct Training on April 7, 2021 at Camp Humphreys, Korea. The Army recently conducted a pilot for an updated Training Support Package for SHARP that aims to provide a more engaging learning experience for Soldiers and Army Civilians. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Steven Close)) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Academy (ASA) is rolling out a revised SHARP Annual Refresher Training Support Package (TSP) to better enable leaders, at all levels, to deliver annual refresher training in a leader-led small-group format.

The new training package, which was recently rolled out as a pilot program to several units Army wide, eliminates the previous approach to refresher training consisting of a PowerPoint slide presentation in a classroom environment; opting instead for a more direct and interactive approach of open dialogue through vignettes with a goal of ensuring that all members of the Army profession, Soldier and Civilian, understand and can apply the fundamentals of prevention and response.

“The old training put emphasis on SHARP program knowledge, neglecting skillsets required to intervene,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Drapala, Victim Advocate for the Medical Center of Excellence at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, one of the Army Units who have conducted the pilot training. “The new SHARP training, when done properly, allows for guided conversations with small groups that fully engage the Soldiers involved.”

One of the main differences in the pilot refresher training is the decision by the Army to replace slideshow presentations, opting instead to use the “SHARP Reference Card” (GTA 19-11-001), along with five modules and 15 vignettes contained in the TSP as the primary resources to execute the training.

“The vignettes throw in a twist to what we normally see with SHARP training,” Drapala said. “The critical thinking skills kick in as they run through and discuss different scenarios and how they would react. This builds skills and the confidence to intervene when needed and the majority of Soldiers I have spoken with list the vignette portion of the training as their favorite part.”

Drapala believes the training will be more impactful in three key areas; Command presence, Intervention Skill Development, and Confidence. “When these three areas are improved upon we will have a solid base for prevention measures,” he said.

Another key change for the new SHARP refresher training support package is its empowerment of leaders to get in front of their formations armed with the same knowledge that previously had been left only to SHARP professionals, according to Sgt. 1st Class Kacie D. Chavez, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the 728th Military Police Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

“If they [leaders] do not know this information and they have a Soldier who is struggling and has gone through a traumatic event, it is so important that they know the resources and steps to get the Soldier help,” Chavez said.   “It also enables the Soldiers, who are seeing their leaders be so knowledgeable, regain trust and confidence within their leadership.”

One of the goals of the new training package is to provide added flexibility for leaders to focus on topics that are more relevant to their particular audience.

“In our training, we have had open discussions using vignettes, shared personal experiences, and the last training was using GTA 19-11-001, said Sgt. 1st Class Emily V. Tasi-Tuulaupua, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the 8th Military Police Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. “The focus was on the continuum of harm, and bystander intervention training, which tied into how sexual harassment and sexual assault can impact the unit’s readiness when leaders fail to intervene or foster an environment that bystander intervention is encouraged at all levels.”

According to the Director of the Army SHARP Academy, COL Lawrence Burns, the move to an updated training model for SHARP will help the Army move one step closer to eliminating harmful behaviors.

“The newly formatted training materials provide small unit leaders the opportunity to deliver SHARP Annual Refresher Training in a more engaging manner,” said Burns. “Having leaders deliver the training conversationally helps build relationships within units and fosters increased trust by our force as they see leaders demonstrate understanding of and commitment to the SHARP program and its goal of eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault from our ranks.”

ASA posted the revised TSP to the Army Training Network (ATN) in the third quarter of FY 2021, so this material is available to the field to facilitate FY22 implementation. As to how effective the new Training Support Package is, Drapala says the answer to that is in the feedback he is already getting from Soldiers who have attended the vignette-based training.

“The Vignettes make them think about how they would handle real life situations,” he said. “Soldiers have stated they learned more about the SHARP program from attending this training one time than they have during the rest of their career.”