The influence of the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention Program on norms and society in the United States Army
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How effective has SHARP been in preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment in the US Army? The U.S. Army has used the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program (SHARP) since 2008 as a way to address the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment among its ranks. However, current research by the Department of Defense show that the rate of both assault and harassment has not significantly declined over the years. Existing literature also discussed that there are a number of cultural norms within the Army and military as a whole that continue to perpetuate an environment where concepts of male masculinity and gender inequality exist. The research for this study involved conducting a survey of soldiers to get a better sense of how they thought the program influenced the Army as a whole and themselves as an individual. While the SHARP program is effective in educating soldiers that the problems of sexual violence exist, the key finding is that it does not target the societal and gendered norms that have existed in the Army that perpetuate a culture which is conducive to harassment and assault. By failing to do so, SHARP has had little effect in reducing the number of incidents. However, progress, such as increased reporting and increased awareness, highlight that SHARP is not inherently broken. Instead, it must evolve in its educational focus to have greater results in the reduction of sexual assault and harassment incidents in the future.