By Ashley HenryAugust 18, 2009
LEESBURG, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 18, 2009) -- The battle to rid the Army of sexual assault and harassment was taken to new heights last week, as members of Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers chapters gathered at the 2009 Department of the Army BOSS forum here.
Throughout the week, a focal point for forum attendees was the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, which has recently partnered with BOSS.
"The goal of the partnership is to be that band of brothers and sisters [who look out for each other]," said Carolyn Collins, Army SHARP program manager. "This is the perfect team of how we ensure Soldier safety, and we couldn't be happier or prouder of what they are executing on the ground and in their communities."
During the conference, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston spoke to BOSS Soldiers on sexual assault and harassment issues and the partnership between them and the SHARP program.
"Education and communication are probably the two key pieces of this partnership," Preston said. "It's up to us, as an institution, to educate and communicate what 'right' looks like and the expected behavior of a Soldier."
During the BOSS forum, attendees participated in an interactive sexual assault prevention training program created by Catharsis Productions known as "Sex Signals." This two-actor program uses dramatized realistic skits and audience participation to help bring about a cultural shift in the Army -- to change attitudes about consent, body language and rape.
Along with the "Sex Signals" program, participants also attended a training session with Russell Strand, Family Advocacy, Law Enforcement and Training Division chief from the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
His training, heavy on video clips, is designed to draw an emotional connection with the issue and help attendees understand the strategies that offenders use so when they are in the field they have a better understanding of what to look for in a potential offender.
This year, the BOSS program celebrated its 20th anniversary. It's relationship with the SHARP program is relatively new, however. And Collins said she can see that the partnership is proving successful.
"Soldiers are really embracing this campaign," Collins said, "because a lot of them have seen where incidents have occurred and to see the Army taking a stand - they are proud to be a part of that."
For more information on the Army's sexual assault prevention program, visit www.preventsexualassault.army.mil.