Congleton Town Council’s White Ribbon Group visited Alsager High School recently to give talks to encourage students to challenge sexism and harassment, and join the White Ribbon Campaign.
Year 12 took part in the sessions which were presented by White Ribbon Ambassadors Yacob Cajee and Jonathan Dakin, supported by White Ribbon Champion Cllr Kay Wesley.
White Ribbon engages men and boys, in particular, to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that lead to male violence against women.
The talk included an interactive poll to stimulate discussion about sexism, harassment and abuse, and what can be done about it.
Mr Cajee, a White Ribbon Ambassador, shared some statistics about sexual violence and domestic abuse, including that in Alsager there are three incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police each week, on average. He addressed the young men in the room, saying: “This is not a problem for women to solve. The only people who can stop male violence against women are men. That is the purpose of the White Ribbon campaign.”
In April 2021 a national survey by Victim Focus found 94 per cent of girls under 18 have been catcalled in the street by men. In Cheshire East, a 2021 survey of women found that over 90 per cent do not always feel safe on the streets.
The polls conducted at the school reflected similar concerns, with 97% of the girls and 44% of the boys saying they take ‘more than one’ of a list of actions to keep themselves safe on a night out.
Mr Dakin then explained that the White Ribbon Campaign was about men and boys challenging definitions of masculinity that include aggression, sexism and exerting power over women and others. He outlined a set of actions the school and students could take, including making their White Ribbon Promise, becoming a White Ribbon School, and helping launch the Cheshire East SHOUT campaign – ‘Sexual Harassment, let’s stamp it OUT’, which has been developed by young people for young people in the local area.
Alison Pole, Director of 6th Form at Alsager School said: “This is such an important campaign and message to get out. One third of our 6th Form students signed up on the day and I’m sure that there will be more to come! Thank you for coming in to talk to us.”
Cllr Kay Wesley added: “We were delighted that a large number of the young people were keen to make their White Ribbon promise. This cohort is just going into Year 13 and it was wonderful to hear them sharing ideas for taking this forward in school next year.”
The White Ribbon Promise is “I promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.” Individuals can make their promise at any time online at www.whiteribbon.org.uk.
Congleton Town Council is a White Ribbon Accredited organisation whose ambition is to eradicate male violence against women and all gender-based violence. The White Ribbon Group consists of Town Councillors, Council Officers, and volunteers from the community who are White Ribbon Ambassadors.
Chair of the Congleton White Ribbon Group Cllr Robert Hemsley said: “We have already visited the Congleton secondary schools and it was good to be invited to Alsager to spread the word about White Ribbon. I know that members of Alsager Town Council are keen to get accredited and we will help them in any way we can to achieve this.”
If any organisations, clubs or employers are interested in gaining their own accreditation as White Ribbon organisations, please contact the team via email@example.com and a member of the White Ribbon Group will get in touch.