The Army of the United States has been implementing Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training for almost a decade, since 2008. Nevertheless, there are still many reports of harassment and assault and no decline is observed. On the contrary, in 2017, an increase in the number of sexual assault reports was detected. Despite active steps taken to change the situation, there are still many challenges including a negative perception of SHARP training. The hypothesis is that some interventions to be applied by military leaders can be developed to address these challenges at the team and squad levels and achieve the reduction of sexual harassment and assault reports in the Army.
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One of the interventions that can positively influence SHARP training implementation is the change and improvement of this program. This step will require some research from the leaders. Thus, the intervention implies interviewing team and squad members about the benefits and weaknesses of the training. Such a survey is expected to reveal the existing problems in perceptions of the training program and assess its efficiency for educating soldiers about the issue of sexual violence. Some changes can be suggested to the program grounded on the survey results.
A deeper investigation can be needed to reveal the roots of the sexual harassment and assault problem. One of the possible reasons influencing this issue is the practice of resolving conflicts at lower levels without formal reports of accidents. Such an approach leads to permissiveness and encourages acting according to one’s desires disregarding social norms. Moreover, cultural norms should be mentioned as a cause of increasing rates of sexual harassment and assault. Traditional gender inequality and treatment of females as interiors with a focus on male superiority is another root of this problem to be addressed.
To address the challenges of SHARP training, the leaders can imply the following interventions. First of all, it is important to educate the military staff that the problem of harassment and assault exists. Moreover, they should be aware that such cases cannot be treated as normal and thus should be reported and investigated. Secondly, it is possible to apply some kinds of psychological assessment and reveal individuals potentially able to commit harassment or assault. This approach provides an opportunity for better control over potentially dangerous individuals or their inclusion in some specific psychological training to prevent negative behavior cases. Finally, leaders can support SHARP training by developing a culture of respect, equality, and tolerance in their teams and squads.
On the whole, three major steps are needed to increase the efficiency of SHARP programs in the US Army. First of all, it is necessary to investigate the existing perceptions of the program among soldiers. Secondly, it is important to reveal the roots of the sexual harassment and assault problem. Finally, actions should be taken to address the problem and decrease the rates of sexual harassment and assault in the US Army.
To summarize, it should be mentioned that the SHARP training program has the potential to reduce cases of sexual harassment and assault in the Army. Still, training participants should be prepared to percept information and the environment in teams and squads should be changed to support the new culture. The combination of training and culture change is expected to give better results than the training itself.