News: New spin on old training gives SHARP an edge
Story by Staff Sgt. Alexander Burnett
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and other tenant units from the Kaiserslautern Military Community saw a new spin on Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention at Hercules Theater on Ramstein Airbase May 12-18.
The training, which was presented by Catharsis Productions, is part of a Department of the Army Personnel directive to change SHARP presentation methods and make them more effective. The Soldiers in attendance did not receive their normal two-hour slide presentation given by a senior noncommissioned officer. Instead, two civilian presenters delivered the message in a less conventional manner.
"Before we get started, I want to let you all know two things. First, we are going to try to have fun during SHARP training. I know! Crazy, right?" Chris Sanders, a Catharsis Productions presenter and native of Chicago, said to the audience. "The other is that not everything with two legs and a penis is a rapist."
From start to finish, the 80-minute-long block of interactive instruction was a flurry of stereotype crushing data, jokes and intervention techniques. While members of the audience laughed during the presentation, the presenters reminded them that sexual harassment and assault are no laughing matter.
"Even though everyone laughs and we try to make the training enjoyable, it's important to remember the reason this training is necessary," Sanders said. "I wish I could get fired because there was no need for SHARP training anymore, but it is still happening."
The presenters walked Soldiers through negative sexual stereotypes and language that can create a difficult work environment; they discussed the basics of “hooking up” and demonstrated how these parts of today’s culture can lead to sexual assault. They discussed how sexual predators can blend in and ways to identify their behavior. Finally, they emphasized some of the misconceptions when it comes to alcohol’s involvement to the issue.
“Guys, do you remember the last time you had a few drinks and thought, ‘Man I need to go out and rape?’ No. That’s because alcohol doesn’t make us do anything, so why would we blame it for sexual assault,” Sanders posed to the audience.
The session concluded with ways to intervene. The presenters recommended everything from personally stepping in to asking for help from bar staff or other patrons. As Soldiers left the auditorium, they expressed their opinions on the new SHARP training.
“This was much better than the training we normally get on SHARP,” said Pfc. Patrick D. Vanburen, a communications specialist assigned to the 21st TSC and a native of Lewistown, Pa. “Instead of being bored to death by a slide show, this was interactive and interesting. We need more training like this.”