Military News

Friday, November 20, 2015

Stopping sexual assault before it starts

by Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs

11/20/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force leadership implemented a five-year sexual assault prevention and response strategy Oct. 27, which includes a new phase adding to preventative efforts and response capabilities.

The goal of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention strategy is to have an Air Force free from sexual assault.

The foundation of the new strategy is to stop an assault before it occurs by identifying risk factors and following through with increased bystander intervention.

Some of the risks a potential perpetrator might have are unhealthy relationships or experiences, or beliefs that promote risky behaviors.

These risk factors can also be aggravated in a culture that tolerates sexual hazing, harassment and assault.

"Sexual assault prevention is critical to the health, morale and welfare of Airmen and [is] ultimately essential to Air Force readiness," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "This strategy lays out the deliberate, science-based process we will follow to eradicate this crime from our ranks."

The long-term objective of the strategy is to provide Airmen with developmental education and training to uphold an environment free of violence.

JBER plans to do so with an advisory board.

"At the installation level, we are setting up an advisory board to combine different agencies such as mental health, drug abuse prevention, public health, [the] legal office, safety, equal opportunity, inspector general, chaplains and career assistance," said Darmaly Williams, JBER SAPR program manager. "We are creating our own action plan based on our basic local needs."

Each organization's specialty can shine a light on a specific cause related to violence and, with their help, further resolve the issue. The advisory board will address violence through a holistic approach.

"Instead of just sexual violence, we're addressing different kinds of violence and [its] surrounding factors," Williams said. "The first step is establishing the advisory board, and planing monthly meetings.

In these meetings, we will talk about the root cause of these problems - because a Band-Aid isn't going to fix [them]."

Forms of violence the advisory board plans to address include domestic, workplace, sexual assault, child treatment and suicide.

Once the risk factors specific to JBER have been identified, additional training will educate the community on more efficient preventative efforts.

"Social violence is a public health issue. Rather than simply being a personal responsibility, it is also a community responsibility," said Capt. Meghan Cummings, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator deputy.

"This new strategy gives bystanders a more positive direction."

According to the SAPR guidance, sexual assault reports have gone up and overall incidents have gone down.

There is trust in the system, and awareness of the problem, but the next step is transforming that awareness into action.

"We've come a long way in figuring [the issue] out, and the military has made a lot of progress in recognizing and addressing this problem," Williams said. "I am really looking forward to improving our efforts."

For more information, call 551-2020/2033 or 2035, or visit the new SAPR strategy guidance at

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