From Response, to Preemption

With recent survey results showing Air Force anti-sexual assault education and victim response efforts paying off, the “next push that we’re taking on now is prevention,” service Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer told Air Force Magazine. “We’ve done a lot to educate people, we’ve done a lot to make certain our victims are cared for, … but in an ideal world, the crime would never happen,” Spencer said in a Dec. 8 interview. In January, Air Force leaders are hosting a four and a half-day Sexual Assault Prevention Summit to hammer out new measures the service can implement to preempt sexual assault before it happens, he announced. “We plan to end the conference with the list of things we’re going to do and move out on them immediately,” Spencer explained. The summit will bring together prevention experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—who will host the first day, with airmen from the command, down to the junior level. Discussion will cover definitions and barriers, cultural and climatic factors, including social media, healthy relationship education, and future action plans, Spencer said. He said the Air Force is already working with outside experts to find ways the service could screen potential predators from among recruits. “Obviously, that’s not easy, but we’re working with folks to try to understand what we might ask, what traits we might look for, or what background we might look for that may trigger a deeper look,” he said.