By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Karsten, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs
PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet staff kicked off their sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) training month by focusing on bystander intervention while underway aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) March 24.
During the 2-hour training session Sailors interacted with each other in two-way group conversations, discussing scenarios seen in various thought-provoking videos. Discussions included issues that Sailors encounter first hand such as peer pressure, stress, drinking, fraternization and sexual advances in the workplace. The training was broken into rank based sessions so the discussions following the videos could reflect the various levels of leadership interaction based on each peer group.
"The end result is that we want Sailors to take ownership, be active bystanders and get involved in their peer group to eliminate other Sailors from making bad decisions that could have a long term negative effect on their lives," said Chief Cryptologic Technician Maintenance Michael Horton, command SAPR. "The training focuses on understanding that it should be a culture of change to want to do better for their peers and ultimately better for themselves."
Bystander intervention training is often associated with sexual assault prevention, however this new training goes beyond just stopping a potential sexual assault. It covers the entire range of destructive behaviors, from sexual harassment to alcohol abuse to hazing, harassment and suicide.
"Intervention is not just sexual assault, we want Sailors - when they see something that's out of the ordinary - to feel comfortable to come forward to their chain of command or to approach the situation from the lowest level to find a resolution to whatever the conflict is," said Horton.
Bystander intervention training is a direct result of Navy-wide Sailor feedback asking for more interactive and hands-on training. The new style of training highlights that any Sailor, regardless of rank, is a leader and focuses on starting the trend that stepping up and stepping in will be the "in" thing for the Navy of the future. The training was led by rank based peers and has removed the older style power point sessions.
The Navy-wide mandatory training was introduced during the fall of 2014 and all Sailors are required to complete by September 2015.