Groups share their sexual assault prevention strategies

| February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Army Secretary John M. McHugh addresses generals, non-commissioned officers and senior civilians during the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Summit in Tysons Corner, Virginia, Feb. 18. (Courtesy photo)

Army Secretary John M. McHugh addresses generals, non-commissioned officers and senior civilians during the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Summit in Tysons Corner, Virginia, Feb. 18. (Courtesy photo)

Jim Garamone
Army News Service

TYSONS CORNER, Virginia — All aspects of American society are trying to come to grips with preventing sexual assault, and the Army is sharing experiences and practices with civilian and private organizations at the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Summit, here.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno sponsored the summit and a roomful of general officers and their command sergeants major listened to the presentations and exchanged ideas.

Four officials also wrestling with preventing sexual assault and harassment spoke about their experiences and insights. They were: David Parrott, dean of student affairs at Texas A&M University; Jane Randel, a founder of No More and a special advisor to the NFL on preventing sexual assault; Malia Arrington, who leads the prevention effort for the U.S. Olympic Committee; and Therese Bechet Blake of the office of global diversity at JP Morgan Chase.

All spoke of the difficulties in changing the culture of organizations, and all spoke of the need to educate boys and girls about the problem at younger ages.

Like the Army, all four deal with the scourge of sexual assault and sexual harassment. All spoke of various laws, requirements and regulations that have to be dealt with and often interpreted.

All agree that preventing sexual assault is the best way forward, but they said it is tough understanding what works and what doesn’t. Proving a negative – a sexual assault that did not occur, for example – is impossible.

All four speakers emphasized the critical nature of leadership and education in countering the issue. Leaders must be committed and open about their determination to stop sexual crimes, Parrott said. The laws “call on us to address and confront sexual assault and sexual harassment, and we change the environment to eliminate sexual assault and harassment,” he said.

What leaders probably don’t want to hear is “the better job you do, the more people will come forward,” said Randel during her presentation. She believes education and communicating those lessons is most important.

Blake agreed and cited a lesson from corporate America. Leaders may be all for changing a corporate culture, but if it doesn’t “cascade” to employees, it is all for naught, she said.

The size of the organization also complicates situations. The Army, of course, deals with millions of people around the world. The U.S. Olympic Committee also deals with millions of people, but those athletes are under the auspices of sport committees like USA Basketball or USA Tennis, Arrington said.

The Olympic Committee still must deal with sexual assaults and sexual harassment constantly. The Olympic Committee rolls bullying and hazing into the issue.

The Olympic effort deals with children as young as 4 to senior athletes, and all can be victims.

Arrington, Parrott and Randel stressed the need to educate young people on preventing sexual violence. Middle schools, sports activities and other youth groups need to stress preventing sexual assault and harassment.

For adults, there has to be consequences, Blake said. In the corporate world, the three levers are revenue, costs and human capital, she said.

“We need to make people understand why they should care, why they should change and what they need to do,” Blake said.

(Note: Garamone works with DOD News, Defense Media Activity.)

 

More Online

Read more about efforts at Army News:

•Dialogue at platoon level – www.army.mil/article/143026/ and

•Bystanders need to protect victims – www.army.mil/article/143134.

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