Navy's new approach to curb sex assaults

Fleet wide stand down in effect

SAN DIEGO - When it comes to unwanted sexual advances in the military, there's a familiar refrain -- "If you want to keep your career you don't say anything."  

That from a woman who said she was assaulted in the Army.

The Navy hopes a new approach will change that.

"Take this seriously because this is a crime," said an instructor at a mandatory class for sailors being rolled out fleet wide.

With role-playing and blunt questions-and-answers, plus a bystander approach, the Navy hopes to get ahead of a major problem.

"If the victim can't or won't come forward, as a bystander you can confront the attacker, you can support the victim, there are many paths to take to get this to stop," said Maia Rodriguez, one of 50 sailors who were in the class.

There were more than 26,000 unwanted sexual advances in the military last year, according to figures released by the Department of Defense.

However, only 3,300 reported it.

"We are all part of the problem," said Morani Sanders, another sailor in the class.

The Navy is also focusing attention on patrols on base and out in the community to stress bystander intervention.

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