WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 2, 2008) - Army leaders at all levels will be stressing education, awareness, and prevention of sexual assault throughout the month of April, which has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"With the recent release of the Department of Defense FY 07 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, there has been an increased interest in the Army's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program," said Col. Jon Dahms, chief of Planning Support in Army Public Affairs. "Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a time for us to bring broad visibility to this important Army program and for leaders, trainers and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators at all levels to talk about this program, conduct prevention and awareness training, and emphasize support and resources available to victims."

Since the inception of the Army SAPR program, the primary focus has been awareness and victim care. Those efforts will continue, officials said, but with an additional ramp-up of prevention initiatives.

"We've improved awareness training and expanded the reporting options available for victims including restricted reporting," said Carolyn Collins, program manager for the Army SAPR program. "This year we will implement a new social marketing strategy that will be used to encourage peer intervention to prevent assaults."

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program reinforces the Army's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through a comprehensive policy that centers on awareness and prevention, training and education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and follow-up, she said.

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, commanders at installations and in deployable brigades are encouraged to work with their SARCs to arrange awareness and training activities. Each Army SARC will receive a Sexual Assault Awareness Month Toolkit from Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command and a package from the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Office. These packages contain brochures, suggested activities, news articles, letters and other resources.

The Army's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program website at http://www.sexualassault.army.mil is another resource. In addition to awareness month materials, it contains a variety of educational material, policy documents and links to other resources for use by leaders and Soldiers.

The Army's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program's near-term vision focuses on increasing peer-to-peer bystander intervention (keeping offenders from offending) and offender accountability. The goal is to create a command climate of respect, with zero tolerance for this crime.

"The 'Bystander Intervention Training' package, which is the focus of training this year, will help create an environment where peers feel empowered to stop sexual violence before it starts," Collins said. "It helps create an empowering climate, one where every Soldier is aware of the issues surrounding sexual violence, and where any behavior which might potentially facilitate sexual violence is not tolerated."

Army officials hope that by encouraging Soldiers to ASK...ACT...INTERVENE, the Bystander Intervention Training will reinforce responsible "battle buddy" behavior by presenting scenarios in which participants detect the warning signs of a potential sexual assault and gain an understanding of how a bystander can safely intervene before a sexual assault occurs.

"Sexual assault is contrary to Army values. There is no place in the Army for it. We train our Soldiers every year on sexual assault prevention and we reemphasize it in all of our professional education,Aca,!A" said Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, Deputy Chief of Staff, Army G-1. Aca,!A"Our SAPR Program is constantly looking for new and innovative techniques to address sexual assault prevention. This year we are incorporating a new peer involvement strategy that encourages peer intervention in addition to our other comprehensive approaches.Aca,!A?

For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month and training support resources are available at the Web sites below:

U.S. Army Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program

<a href="http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/content/saam.cfm"target=_blank>www.sexualassault.army.mil/content/saam.cfm</a>.

U.S. Army Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Resources

<a href="http://www.army.mil/-links/2007/11/07/6026-sexual-assault-prevention-and-response-program-sapr/"target=_blank>www.army.mil/-links/2007/11/07/6026-sexual-assault-prevention-and-response-program-sapr</a>.

The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

<a href="http://www.sapr.mil/homepage.aspx'Topic=SAAM"target=_blank>www.sapr.mil/homepage.aspx'Topic=SAAM</a>.