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Zero-tolerance policy to aid Airmen in bullying, hazing situations

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The Air Forces believes it is vital to have a positive human relations climate to physically and psychologically protect its most valuable asset – its Airmen.

As part of October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, the Equal Opportunity Office wanted to highlight a policy change that occurred this year to educate Team Sheppard and continue to build on the climate of dignity, respect and professionalism.

The Air Force initiated a zero-tolerance policy against hazing and bullying on Feb 1, 2019, in accordance with the Department of Defense Instruction 1020.03, Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces. Airmen are now allowed to submit an informal or formal complaint through their EO office in regards to hazing and bullying.

Bullying, as defined in the DoDI, is a form of harassment that includes acts of aggression by service members or DoD civilian employees, with a connection to military service, with the intent of harming a service member either physically or psychologically, without a proper military or other governmental purpose. Bullying may involve the singling out of an individual from his or her coworkers, or unit, for ridicule because he or she is considered different or weak. It often involves an imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim.

Bullying can be conducted through the use of electronic devices or communications, and by other means including social media, as well as in person.

Hazing is a form of harassment that includes conduct through which service members or DoD civilian employees, without a proper military or other governmental purpose but with a connection to military service, physically or psychologically injures or creates a risk of physical or psychological injury to service members for the purpose of: initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, change in status or position within, or a condition for continued membership in any military or DoD civilian organization. Hazing can be conducted through the use of electronic devices or communications, and by other means including social media, as well as in person.

As leaders, coworkers and wingmen, we must ask ourselves if the treatment we extend to our subordinates or colleagues violates this new policy and if so, we must bring our conduct in compliance.

Military personnel who believe they have been subjected to bullying or hazing harassment have the right to file a complaint with their chain of command or the servicing Equal Opportunity office. In most instances, you will obtain a more swift resolution using your chain of command. However, in the event you believe you are not able to obtain resolution in that capacity, you can contact your local EO office for assistance.

Civilian personnel who believe they have been subjected to bullying or hazing harassment also have the right to address those concerns through the chain of command, the negotiated or administrative grievance procedure (whichever is applicable); or the local Inspector General’s office.

The essence of the Air Force Equal Opportunity Program is about removing barriers from individuals so they can reach their highest potential; this is one more way that mission can be fulfilled.

For more information related to the Air Force Equal Opportunity Program, please visit: https://www.af.mil/equal-opportunity/ or call Sheppard AFB EO Office at 940-676-4393.