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The U.S. Army has a program called SHARP (Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention) that teaches Soldiers how to identify sexual harassment, assault and other types of inappropriate behavior within their ranks. The goal of the program is to create a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army family.
SHARP is the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program of the U.S. Army. It is designed to help prevent sexual harassment, assault, and rape, which are serious crimes that can lead to you being separated from the Army.
The SHARP program is for both men and women in all ranks within the U.S. Army.
The goal of SHARP is to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assaults within the Army and create a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army family.
Through professional development training, education, outreach and mentoring activities, SHARP commands will increase awareness of sexual harassment and assault prevention as well as provide resources for victims.
The program aims to:
What does SHARP teach? SHARP teaches Soldiers to watch out for each other and eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault from the ranks by having everybody take responsibility for what happens in their unit.
SHARP also reminds Soldiers that they are part of a team. As such, it is important to be aware of what is going on around you, as well as your surroundings. This may mean learning someone’s name or where they live so that if something goes wrong, you can help them get home safely or call someone if they need help right away. It also means avoiding situations where you may be alone with someone who might be a problem.
When did the U.S. Army introduce its SHARP program? The U.S. Army introduced its SHARP program in 2009 as a result of surveys that showed more than 20 percent of women in the military have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter while serving in uniform, including rape, nonconsensual sodomy and groping.
The program was created to address the problem head-on with prevention training and education programs that focus on bystander intervention and risk assessment.
The U.S. Department of Defense also found that about 75 percent of victims did not report their assault because they felt it would be useless or harmful to themselves or their careers.
Fear of retaliation is a consistent fear among soldiers and veterans who have been sexually assaulted, according to the Pentagon’s 2013 survey on sexual harassment in the military. Additionally, many victims believe that reporting an attack will not only hurt them but also their unit as a whole. This can lead soldiers to feel trapped, unsure whether they should speak up or stay silent in order to protect themselves and their fellow soldiers/veterans from further danger and harm.
In addition to these fears are the fears that come with being judged by friends and colleagues if you report an incident; being blamed for what happened; being further victimized by the person who attacked you; having no physical evidence against your attacker (and therefore possibly having your case dismissed); feeling like nobody would ever believe you anyway; etc.–all reasons why so many victims choose not tell anyone at all about what happened until years later when therapy becomes necessary due to resulting trauma from such an experience.
To combat this problem, the Army decides not to wait until someone gets assaulted — it educates individuals on how they can prevent these assaults from happening in the first place, by teaching them how to recognize signs of aggression early on so they can head off problems before they start escalating.
This is a critical part of SHARP’s mission: by teaching soldiers how to recognize and report harassment and sexual assault, you’re able to nip potential problems in the bud before they become full-blown offenses. The only way that you’re going to be able to prevent sexual harassment and assault in your unit is by educating all members about what constitutes inappropriate behavior before something bad happens.
A sexual assault is any kind of unwanted sexual contact. This includes rape, attempted rape, groping, and other types of sexual contact that makes someone feel threatened or unsafe.
In 2010, the Department of Defense estimated that there were 3,158 sexual assaults among active duty service members, but less than 13 percent were reported to authorities due to fear of retaliation or disbelief that officials would take any action at all. The number may be even higher now because before 2012 most cases went unreported.
While SHARP is still a work in progress, the program has already had a positive impact on military culture and victims’ willingness to report assaults. The U.S. Army hopes that by educating servicemen and women about sexual assault prevention tactics, they’ll be able to protect themselves from becoming victims in the future — as well as help others do so as well.
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