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Schriever steps up sexual assault prevention

Posted 12/12/2012   Updated 12/14/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2012 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force's top leadership recently reiterated the service's zero-tolerance for sexual assault to stop a cycle of unprofessional behavior that is incompatible with the service's core values. Failure to act or prevent a potential assault is a crime.

A 2010 Gallup poll found that 19 percent of female Airmen and two percent of male Airmen were victims of sexual assault since joining the Air Force. Most of these crimes were committed by fellow Airmen - blue on blue.

"Sexual harassment and sexual assault are getting a lot of focus right now because people are seeing (behaviors) in the workplace that is starting down the harassment side then moving along and continuing to the assault side," said Paula Krause, 50th Space Wing sexual assault response coordinator.

Recently, Schriever participated in the Air Force-wide health and welfare inspection to emphasize an environment of respect, trust and professionalism in the workplace. The purpose of this inspection is to reinforce expectations for the workplace environment, correct deficiencies and deter conditions that may be detrimental to good order and discipline. Organizations looked for and removed, if found, unprofessional or inappropriate items that hinder a professional working environment.

The Community Action Information Board is currently working on an initiative to scrutinize the base's prevention program and what the base can do to be more innovative in its prevention approach.

The Equal Opportunity office and the SARC are also planning on performing organizational visits to gain a clear understanding of what they know about sexual assault and harassment.

"Do they know what is appropriate in the workplace and what is not?" Krause said. "We'll talk about how these inappropriate behaviors can lead to an assault if they are not checked."

According to the Department of Defense, sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive or wrongful or attempts to commit these acts.

"Primarily, sexual assault prevention falls under the SARC," Krause said. "We address victim care and prevention efforts."

Airmen and civilians who want to get involved with talking to people about awareness and prevention, can participate as victim advocates. They provide information during commander's calls, First Term Airmen Center and Right Start briefings.

Most importantly, Krause said good wingmen are key in preventing sexual harassment and assault.

"Being a good wingman and saying, 'Hey, look, I see something that is not right,' either by yourself or taking up to the chain, is really important," Krause said. "We talked about that during our bystander intervention training. 'What would you do if you're in that kind of situation?'"

Especially in a workplace environment, sexual harassment and assault start out with small things, she said. This includes people making personal comments or other inappropriate behaviors.

"If something doesn't feel right to you, it is not right," Krause said. "Say something."

According to the Letter to Airmen sent Nov. 16 by Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy, the Air Force must drive sexual assault from the ranks.

"You are a big part of the solution," the Air Force's top leadership said. "Become personally involved. Recommit yourself to our core values. Be an advocate for professionalism and discipline. Let your fellow Airmen know you will not tolerate or support others who believe sexual assault is somehow acceptable - because it is not. Most importantly, if you are aware of sexual assault in your unit, report it."

(Some information courtesy of Air Force News Service)

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