Sexual assault within the ranks has been a silent threat, ruining the careers of many who had no way of reporting it. According to the New York Times, the Department of Defense had released the annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military showing an increase of 38% from 2016. The report states that the number of incidents not being reported has increased by over 6,000 since 2016 (2019). Now, service members receive repetitive face to face classes throughout the year on the Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention Program (SHARP). Monotonous mandatory online training has transformed a serious issue into a mind numbing topic. As technology changes so should the S.H.A.R.P. program and training. A change needs to happen. Instead of the same repetitious class year after year, why not bring in a public speaker to bring light to this reality? Being able to hear and see that you are not alone will encourage other victims to come forward. Another way it could change for the better is by creating and implementing an application (app), downloadable to a phone. Technology is an increasing part of our daily life. Phone calls are a thing of the past and instant messaging app’s and social media are a thriving thing of the future. As leaders and an older generation to social media, this can help us connect with younger Soldiers. To reinforce this, we as an organization should implement Kotter's eight-step process, applying step number three, Developing a Vision and Strategy. Create a clear vision of the organizations goal, giving the leadership an objective to strive for.
Since 2004 the military has established the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR), creating a program that would inform victims, provide a victim advocacy and sexual assault response team. In 2008, SAPR restructured and combined with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment program (POSH) creating the SHARP Program (amry.mil 2011). The goal of this new program was to form an environment encouraging the recognition and reporting of sexual misconduct, maintaining the dignity and respect of each member (Melvin 2015). This is achieved through a 90 minute block class starting in Basic Combat training (BCT) and sustained throughout your military career. Soldiers are given the tools to identify, prevent and respond to incidents as they progress though the levels of their career. Along with this training, we are to participate in a three-hour power point class and take an online class titled “Standing Strong”.
In the beginning of our military career all this information is fresh and unbelievable; how this could happen in an organization that is built to protect and defend this great nation. Then after several years of the same information, the seriousness of this problem turns into a joke. Then in the summer of 2012 it all changed and made me realize the severity of sexual assault when a public speaker came to give the class. His name was SPC Wright. He spoke of how he was assaulted along with other Soldiers with the approval of his leadership. As I sat alongside my battle-buddies, holding tears back, I listened to him with a sorrowful heart. One can never understand how this can happen to a fellow teammate by the same people we serve with. The eye opening truth in all this brought to light what the SHARP program truly stands for and how it can help.
In 2014, the SHARP announced an app that would make reporting easier for all. The app supplies users with a variety of information about sexual assault and sexual harassment. It also provides regulations, external links to agencies that can help and phone numbers that will answer calls 24/7. Although this is great information that is readily accessible anywhere you go, there is still something missing. “Millenials” hate making phone calls. It is considered an “outdated technology” 9 (Brandon). A remedy to this could be adding instant messaging, thus the ability to ask the question, receive the response, thus eliminating the uncomfortable conversation of the incidence. The app can be built to be specific for each duty station. All the service member would have to do is select the duty station they currently serve, select the type of service they require, and instantly connect with a representative.
To tie in all the training received, our leadership needs to have a vision. In LTC Andrew’s report “Leading Change: Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention” she examined the program using Kotter’s eight step program. In step three of the program, LTC Andrews states “that by clarifying the vision, it simplifies the direction of change, as well as motivates and fosters unity of effort towards the direction of change” (Andrew 2014). If the hierarchy of the organization establishes a clear picture of the end state, then the leadership can work to accomplish that vision. Leaders can then set goals based of the organizations vision, better prepared training and reinforce the importance of the SHARP program to their subordinates.
- Philipps, Dave. (2019). ‘This is Unacceptable.’ Military Reports a Surge of Sexual Assaults in the Ranks. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/us/military-sexual-assault.html.
- LTC Andrew, Angela. (2013). Leading Change: Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP)[PDF File]. Retrieved from https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/ a589105.pdf
- Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and prevention Program. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.army.mil/article/53957/sexual_harassmentassault_response_and_prevention_program.
- Brandon, John. (n.d.). Why Millenials Don’t Like to Make Phone Calls. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/john-brandon/why-millenials-dont-like-to-make-phone-calls.html.
- Johnson, Melvin R.,,II. (2015). Efficacy of sharp training in the U.S. army: A qualitative descriptive single case study (Order No. 3736206). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1749012071). Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1749012071?accountid=8289.
- Harry T. Dyer . 'All the Web’s a Stage: The Effects of Design and Modality on Youth Performances of Identity' In Technology and Youth: Growing Up in a Digital World. Published online: 24 Sep 2015; 213-242.