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Sex Signals Training Provides Life Lessons for Cadets

by DeJanay Booth

US Army Photo by Josh Newell

COL Heinzelman speaks to cadets on the importance of sexual assault prevention at Olive Threatre during Cadet Summer Training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. PHOTO BY JOSH NEWELL

Conversations among cadets were immediately silenced, indicating the beginning of the “sex signals” training on Sunday, June 15.

As they sat in the Oliver Theater, third and fourth regiment cadets of Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC)  listened attentively and discussed sexual harassment and sexual assault.  The cadets were shown film clips highlighting the dangers of assault and harassment followed by group discussions and questions.

“So who is responsible?” Sgt. 1st Class Warren Hunter asked the cadets in the middle of a discussion.

“Everyone,” they said in unison, meaning everyone is responsible for reporting the act and taking action if he or she witnesses it.

Hunter, who conducted the training, is a sexual assault response coordinator for U.S. Army Cadet Command, working for the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault and Prevention (SHARP) program to educate the cadets of ways to prevent the acts and assist victims with reporting it.

Hunter said it’s important for the cadets to understand the difference between harassment and assault, and providing classes have helped reporting it.

“The number of reports for the last year have gone up by 50 percent across the department of the Army,” Hunter said.  “We believe the reason for that is better education for the individuals, understanding [what it] actually is.  And now that they can identify it, they can feel that level of trust in the unit and the organization, so that they can actually come forward and make that report.”

In most cases, women seem to be more victimized, but they are not always targets. According to an excerpt of “Invisible War,” which was shown in training, approximately 20,000 men will experience an incident of assault in the Army.

Cadet Brittany Wilcut, a junior from Texas A&M University, said it was amazing to hear about men becoming targets as well.

“I feel I have more will to help, not just females but also males.  And let everybody be heard and spread the word,” Wilcut said.

Cadet Darrien Dorr, a senior from Pacific Lutheran University, said she believed she learned more from the training than before she attended it.

“It’s effective.  It was descriptive and makes you feel so much more than before,” she said.

Hunter said soldiers and their family members can call SHARP and report an incident if they have been victimized.

“To have this opportunity is amazing,” he said.  “We can have a huge impact. I look forward to every class that comes through so we can get the message out there and start that culture change.”

At the end of the training, the cadets walked out of the theater with their platoons, each having the insight on prevention and assisting others in need of support.

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