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The Marine Corps is overhauling its sexual assault prevention training for noncommissioned officers with a new program modeled after the service's edgy new suicide prevention course.
Marine suicides are down since senior leadership tackled the issue with renewed vigor last year, but sexual assault cases are up — from 244 in 2009 to 310 last year — and many more go unreported, officials say.
Set to debut this fall, the new prevention training will look similar to the Corps' "Never Leave a Marine Behind" program, which addresses the tough subject of suicide not with mind-numbing PowerPoint slides but with a Hollywood-quality short film that includes gritty scenarios and salty language meant to make the message more engaging.
Called "Take a Stand," the three-hour sexual assault class will be taught by "uniformed victim advocates" and satisfy mandatory NCO sexual assault prevention training requirements, which must be renewed each year.
During the training, participants will see a video featuring fellow Marines who have been the victims of sexual assault. The new course also will likely include a realistic short film portraying Marines in difficult real-world situations as they struggle to protect fellow Marines from sexual assault and cope with the fallout. It will be accompanied by guided discussion.
Like suicide-prevention training, the new program pressures bystanders to step in and speak up if they see something amiss. NCOs will also be expected to return to their units and brief the junior Marines under their command using short videos and presentations.
"This course stresses the responsibility of NCOs to one another, as well as to the Marine Corps' most at-risk population — junior Marines," said Capt. Patrick Boyce, a Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokesman.
The Corps also is touting other Defense Department initiatives such as "Safe Helpline," which launched earlier this year. It provides an anonymous forum for victims to speak with counselors and seek help reporting an assault, if a victim chooses.
A Department of Navy survey — also anonymous — is underway. Marines, sailors and civilian employees can access it online until Sept. 30 at http://www.donsapro.navy.mil/survey.html.">www.donsapro.navy.mil/survey.html.
Consisting of 47 questions, it delves into the personal sexual assault history of individual Marines and asks about attitudes toward sexual assault.