WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy joins the Department of Defense (DoD) and the nation in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) this April.
The continuation of the theme “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission”, established by the DoD Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Office, underpins the idea that our people are our most important strategic resource and that operational excellence depends on supporting our personnel, protecting our shipmates and safeguarding team cohesion. “Make the Commitment” is the call to action for the Navy. The theme and call to action encourage all members of the Navy team to commit to promoting a culture that does not tolerate sexual assault.
“I am committed to eliminating the scourge of sexual assault and sexual harassment across the Department of the Navy,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Sexual assault and sexual harassment are unacceptable threats to unit cohesion and cause long term physical and mental harm to those affected. We owe our Sailors, Marines, and civilians a safe, secure, and professional environment as they serve our Navy and nation. "
Tolerating toxic behaviors within our ranks impedes our ability to fight and win wars by eroding trust and degrading individuals who contribute to the mission. This awareness month is designed to enhance year-round efforts to eliminate the crime of sexual assault and ensure all Sailors are treated with dignity and respect.
“Sexual Assault is a toxic threat that harms us all. It must stop, and it will, with engaged leadership and teamwork—in our divisions, squads, and watch teams. There is no room for bystanders in the Navy,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “Our Navy Team makes itself stronger when we build each other up, when we encourage ‘best ever’ performance, and we strive for excellence. When we find and hold perpetrators accountable. When we destroy our enemies. Sexual assault is an enemy. And it’s time to end it.”
SAAPM provides the Navy with the opportunity to highlight programs and initiatives that educate Sailors, support victims, and encourage shipmates to take an active role in making a commitment to preventing, reporting, and eliminating sexual assault in the force. Sexual harassment and assault, in person or online, violates the Navy’s core values and is not tolerated.
In an effort to eliminate instances of sexual assault, Navy leadership has issued guidance on online misconduct, established counselors within the Fleet in addition to family support centers, improved personnel management processes to better respond to occurrences of sexual assault, encouraged bystander intervention, and leveraged technology to remove stigma and barriers associated with seeking help following a sexual assault.
In addition to the programs and initiatives within the Fleet, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is hosting, along with the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force, the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America's Colleges, Universities and Service Academies at the U.S. Naval Academy this month. This forum will provide the opportunity to bring together leading experts and leaders from civilian higher education institutions to better understand and address the challenge of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment on college and university campuses across the nation to promote safe and healthy learning environments. Preventing, reporting and eliminating sexual harassment and assault, starting with midshipmen and cadets, strengthens the force by promoting professionalism, respect and trust within the Service Academy campuses and broader DoD communities.
The Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program falls under the purview of the 21st Century Sailor office, which exists to provide Sailors and their families with resources, training, and skills to overcome adversity and improve wellness.
For more information on SAAPM, including more information on how to prevent and report sexual assault, go to https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/sapr/Pages/SAAPM.aspx.