MCoE hosts SHARP advocate forum to enhance readiness efforts
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 20, 2017) – In support of the Army’s readiness efforts, the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program hosted the inaugural SHARP Advocate Forum here Sept. 5 and 6.
This year’s theme was “Enhancing Our Readiness: Knowledge, Communication, and Prevention.”
Attendees consisted of a diverse group of military and civilian full-time and collateral duty Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, or SARCs; SHARP Victim Advocates, or VAs; and first responders from Fort Benning and the greater Columbus, Georgia community. The forum provided a venue for SHARP professionals to exchange ideas, share lessons learned, and apply best practices. Participants engaged in discussions on various SHARP-related topics in support of the forum’s theme.
To begin the forum, the MCoE SHARP program manager, Michelle Fonseca, welcomed SHARP professionals and extended her appreciation to attendees for their work in support of sexual assault victims and for their work to eliminate sexual assault in the military services.
U.S. Army Armor School Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Hummel provided opening remarks and asked participants to be creative in developing prevention efforts.
Hummel introduced special guest speaker from the Army G-1 SHARP program office, Sgt. Maj. Caprecia Miller, who provided an update on the Army SHARP Program. During Miller’s presentation, participants were able to hear first-hand about the Army’s current prevention initiatives such as the Mind’s Eye II, a grassroots leadership development program to help Soldiers recognize potential high-risk situations.
SHARP professionals also received a SHARP program update from the Training and Doctrine Command diversity director, Sara Bercaw. Bercaw discussed sexual assault trends in TRADOC and described how statistical data is used to identify trends throughout TRADOC.
One of the presentations was “The Canary in the Coal Mine: What Rape Jokes Signal About Our Culture” by Dr. Gail Stern, cofounder of Catharsis Productions and co-author of the non-stranger rape prevention program Sex Signals. Stern offered her insight on how members of the military community can identify ways in which they can challenge rape-minimizing humor in educational and professional situations, utilizing the principles of upstander intervention as a framework for action.
To wrap up the first day’s events, Benjamin Garrett, chief of MCoE Public Affairs Office, provided attendees with insight on the Army’s online misconduct policy and reminded participants that once they log on to a social media platform, they still represent the Army. As such, Soldiers should employ “Think, Type, Post” when engaging on social media sites by thinking about the message being communicated and who could potentially view it now and for years to come, typing a communication that is consistent with Army Values, and posting only those messages that demonstrate dignity and respect for self and others.
On the second day, Special Agent Jeremy McCormick from the Fort Benning Criminal Investigation Division, discussed an emerging problem in the Army and society known as “sextortion.” Sextortion is a cybercrime perpetrated against unwitting victims who are approached in casual conversation via social media and then seduced into engaging in online sexual activities. He reminded participants that sextortion is 100 percent preventable and offered tips on how to avoid falling victim of sextortion. The tips included refraining from engaging in sexually explicit activities online; adjusting privacy settings; limiting publicly available information; exercising caution when accepting friend requests and communicating with unknown persons; avoiding disclosure or discussion of U.S. military affiliation; trusting your instincts; turning off electronic devices and covering webcams when not in use; and safeguarding personal banking and credit card information.
Next, Bobbi Starr of Micah’s Promise, a chapter of the Set Free Movement, which is a religious non-profit organization that seeks to end modern slavery, told attendees about the issue of “sex trafficking” in Georgia and throughout the United States. She was followed by Karoushia Jordan, Family Advocacy training specialist, gave a dynamic presentation on how domestic abuse and intimate partner violence are serious health issues that impact readiness. Karoushia engaged the forum participants in discussion.
Finally, Theresa Willey, project coordinator for the Violence Against Women Program at Columbus State University, shared the prevention and education programs used on campus such as the Bystander Intervention Program, healthy dating practices, student-created exercises, awareness events, and Masculinity Program.
To learn more about the Army’s SHARP program, visit www.sexualassault.army.mil.