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KEYSTONE 2009: Bystander Intervention Training

  • Published
  • By James W. Russell, III
  • Associate Chief, Military Justice Division, Air Force Legal Operations Agency
The Air Force is committed to preventing sexual assault. While the initial focus of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program has been on responding to allegations, our leadership has long recognized that an immediate, trained response for each report of sexual assault, combined with effective investigative and military justice efforts, could only address the aftermath of the offense. Without effective prevention and risk reduction programs, little progress can be made in wiping out the crime.

Air Force Manpower and Personnel (A1) was committed to developing an effective program. The program managers worked with national experts to review available strategies and develop a plan suited to our environment and people. Several months ago, Lieutenant General Rives, along with a handful of other senior personnel, participated in a demonstration of the training program they had developed.

The training, called the Bystander Intervention Training (BIT), presents an approach that all of us can use before sexual violence occurs. The BIT is a strategy that motivates and mobilizes people who may see, hear or otherwise recognize signs of an inappropriate or unsafe situation to act - in a positive, socially appropriate, way. The Air Force has developed three interactive training modules that provide basic education about bystander intervention strategies. The modules are geared to specific audiences -- senior leaders, men, and women, and are designed to address appropriate intervention strategies based on the gender of the people involved.

While the three BIT modules will soon be presented AF-wide, attendees at KEYSTONE 09 will receive the senior leader module. We will show our dedication to the goal of bringing an end to sexual violence in the Air Force by having over 650 JAG, paralegal and civilian leaders trained at BITs first large scale training session.

If you will not be at KEYSTONE to participate in this training, you will get the opportunity to participate at your duty location. Whether you are a JAG or paralegal, and regardless of whether you are a trial counsel or area defense counsel, all of us are united in the goal of sexual assault prevention. Our Corps is fully committed to this program.