SHARP Program Improvement Forum aims to better serve victims

| August 14, 2015 | 0 Comments


J.D. Leipold
Army News Service


WASHINGTON — Borrowing on the idea of the Army Family Action Plan forum, the Army launched its first Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program improvement conference, Friday, to seek out and collect a range of ideas on how to better serve those who have been victimized by harassment and assault.

Over two days, Army leaders and some 140 stakeholders heard presentations and initiatives, and sorted through a range of ideas, organizing and prioritizing them for action. The proposed actions for each issue were briefed to the Army chief of staff at the forum’s conclusion, Saturday.

Army G-1 Lt. Gen. James McConville opened the conference saying that SHARP has a lot of momentum going on that’s good because studies are telling the Army there are fewer incidents.

“What is bad is that not everybody is reporting for fear of reprisal or retaliation and that means there are people out there who are getting away with these acts,” McConville said. “If you have sexual harassment and sexual assault, you have people who are not treating each other with dignity and respect and you will not have a cohesive team of trusted professionals.”

According to the RAND Military Workplace Study conducted in fiscal year 2014, 52 percent of Defense Department women who had filed an official report of sexual assault reported some form of retaliation.

“That is something we just cannot have as we move forward,” said McConville, adding that sexual harassment and sexual assault issues were also personal for him, and person for all parents and family members.

“My wife was a Soldier, my oldest son is a Soldier, my youngest son is a Soldier and my daughter is taking her oath today to be a Soldier,” he said. “We want you to come together, give us some feedback on things that are and are not working, because we owe this to our Soldier’s parents to be able to look them in the eyes.”

SHARP director Monique Ferrell outlined for the audience new plans and objectives for SHARP, one of which was the publishing of consolidated shop policy that will be clear, easily understandable and would allow program managers to perform their responsibilities without concern as to whether they are in compliance with laws, policies and regulations.

“I am creating a policy oversight branch whose focus will be to get the SHARP regulation published and updated and to write new policy as changes occur,” she said. “I am intent on the SHARP program office executing its responsibility to have oversight. This means we will be helping you to make sure that your programs are in compliance with the policies and that we will not have to rely on external organizations to determine the pulse of our program.”

Ferrell said that retaliation prevention was not only a focus area for the Army, but also for fellow colleagues in the sister services. She noted that a working group was putting together a DOD-wide retaliation prevention strategy that should be published in September. Once that is out, each of the services will develop and align their own strategy with the department.

Additionally, there’s no comprehensive strategy to deal with male victimization at present, but she said as more is learned on the subject and its dynamics, prevention and response programs will be customized to work those issues.

“Surveys developed also tell us that many victims of sexual assault were previously harassed by their assaulter,” she said. “We refer to this as the ‘continuum of harm’, so we’ll be putting some additional focus on sexual harassment prevention.

“We also intend to do more outreach, collaboration and partnering with experts in the field of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as with other agencies, corporations and educational institutions to share what we are doing in the Army as well as learn from them in order to improve our programs,” she said.

The Army SHARP director has plans in the works to revise the “look” of the SHARP campaign by moving away from marketing materials of recent years that included silhouettes and dark-faced images.

“We will have targeted marketing materials that resonate with specific audiences,” she said. “Once those materials have been developed and approved, you will be able to order them from our products on-demand site.

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Category: Army News Service, News, SHARP

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