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The Measures to Improve The Effectiveness of The Sharp Program

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Sexual assault and sexual harassment are two issues that the Army deals with periodically. Sexual harassment can be defined as ‘conduct that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and deliberate or repeated offensive comments or gestures’. While Sexual assault is defined as ‘intentional sexual contact characterized by the use of force, threats, intimidation, or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent’. The Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program was implemented to prevent these incidents from happening. Essentially sexual harassment and sexual assault cannot be one hundred percent prevented but improved training and education on the subject matter could decrease the number of cases over time. Ensuring that soldiers understand the consequences of the actions if done, and the effect that they could have on one’s life is crucial. For the SHARP program to improve in the Army at all levels; it has to find and implement new ways to reach soldiers, ensure senior leaders are setting the right example and are building trust with their subordinates, and take the time to properly deal with the cases at hand.

Within my unit, the SHARP program could be more effective by the presentation of the information. At the quarterly briefs, soldiers are typically packed in a room where they are talked at, with minimal interaction. The SHARP representatives will have a PowerPoint filled with a great deal of information, but when you look around the room, soldiers are being forced to stay awake and are not retaining what is being said to them. You will not be able to reach all of the soldiers, but there have to be ways to grab their attention. For example, if there were video interviews of victims telling their stories and how the incident has affected them, it is a possibility that soldiers would empathize with the victim and would not want to make someone feel that way again. If there were video interviews of the accusers and the consequences that they faced, soldiers could understand the severity of committing these types of acts. Not only would interviews help to keep soldier’s attention, but also allowing advocates to come and speak to subordinates as well. Real-life examples could relay the proper information, allow soldiers to reflect with each other, and interact with someone who has gone through a tragic experience. Furthermore, sending the soldiers within the unit to attend court-martials would be highly effective; they would see the evidence and the process at hand of how the Army deals with these situations.

Another measure that could improve the effectiveness of the SHARP program within the unit is having more than one SHARP representative within the batteries and companies of the battalion. When soldiers are experiencing traumatic situations like these, it is highly unlikely that they would feel comfortable going to the designated representative they probably have not had much interaction with. If allowing team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeants, and first sergeants to attend the proper SHARP training to become representatives, it is a possibility that soldiers could be more open because they are sharing personal information with someone that they are familiar with. According to the Army Times, ‘rise in sexual assault is focused in the 17-to 24-year-old demographic, meaning soldiers who are relatively new to the Army’. With that being said, new soldiers within a unit are solely around their leadership, learning and adapting, and building trust with whom they have the most interactions with. Whether their leadership is a specialist promotable or a sergeant, the proper training could allow them to appropriately help the soldier, provide resources, and be by their side throughout the process.

There are numerous ways that the Army could improve its SHARP program, by improving the process of handling reports. ‘In FY 2018, of the 5,805 unrestricted reports of sexual assault, 307 (5.3%) cases were tried by court-martial, and 108 (1.9%) offenders were convicted of a nonconsensual sex offense’. In other words, these acts were being committed, but nothing was being done about them. This is unhealthy, and traumatizing for all soldiers who are aware of these statistics. Also, there is a message being sent to soldiers who have had thoughts or desires to commit these crimes: nothing will happen. For example, if a lower enlisted soldier disrespects a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and the NCO does nothing about it, any soldier that witnessed this happen will believe that it is okay to do the same thing. Now, if you take the same scenario but instead the NCO recommends the soldier for an Article 15, the surrounding soldiers who witnessed the situation and know the consequence is highly unlikely to do the same act. If victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment see that nothing happened for other victims, they will choose not to report, and this will leave accusers the opportunity to continue to victimize others with no consequence. The Army has to take action with these cases and let victims know that their case is important and will be analyzed accordingly.

From my own experience I have witnessed the Army’s justice system fail the victim due to lack of evidence, lack of support, and lack of experience within the attorneys. Many cases go unresolved because every brigade has one trial counsel. On average there are approximately 1,500 to 4,000 soldiers in a brigade, and there is only one trial counsel with about six paralegals to assist all general crimes that happen within it. Having said that, if five sexual assaults happen within the brigade, this one person is responsible for handling all of them, amongst other crimes. It is easy to see how cases can be overlooked, fall through the cracks, and go unsolved. There has to be a more efficient way to get these cases processed, or the Army will continue to fail these victims, and allow accusers to act again.

As previously stated, sexual assault and sexual harassment cannot be fully prevented, it is going to happen regardless of what is implemented. The Army’s focus should be doing all that it can to prevent these types of cases from increasing, make soldiers feel safe, and handle all reported incidents precisely. Justice for all victims has to be a priority and providing the necessary personnel to deal with these cases promptly should be enforced. Allowing soldiers to attend court-martials, allowing leaders to be SHARP representatives, and continuing to educate soldiers on the subject matter at hand can help. Implementing changes will not have immediate results but taking the time to try new ventures may be what the Army needs to get its mission across about the prohibition of these crimes.

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The Measures To Improve The Effectiveness Of The Sharp Program. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from
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