New Sexual Assault Prevention, Response Strategy

The Air Force on Oct. 28 released a new five-year sexual assault prevention and response strategy intended to “eradicate the crime from our ranks,” said service Secretary Deborah Lee James. Although the release says airmen will be familiar with the response portion of the strategy, the document adopts a new “public health approach to prevention,” said Andra Tharp, an Air Force sexual assault prevention expert. “Fostering skills, such as being an active and engaged bystander, managing emotions, and resisting peer pressure, are proven approaches to preventing violence,” said Tharp. The document aims to standardize SAPR education and training throughout an airman’s career. “We’re moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to prevention and thinking hard about who needs what and when,” added Tharp. “We know that risk factors change as people age and that an airman’s role in prevention might change as he or she takes on different leadership roles.” For example, the new prevention model is focused on “delivering relevant skills and messages to the right people at the right time.” USAF is working with a “contracted prevention training company” to tailor the training program to specific groups and cultures within the service. Focus groups at Little Rock AFB, Ark., and Keesler AFB, Miss., are underway, and the Air Force expects to roll out the new training program in January 2016, states the release.