Sexual Violence Awareness Week
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January 11-15, Blacksburg High School will host its first Sexual Violence Awareness Week, a public relations project by Seniors Leah Hendershot and Jane Chadwick. The two hope to shed light on an issue rarely discussed on high school campuses, leaving an impact that continues long after they graduate.
“[Sexual violence] is a problem at BHS that some people know about and are doing nothing to stop. Others have no idea it is happening,” writes Hendershot. “Last year we did a project about international sex trafficking that resonated with us. This year, we wanted to do a project that would have a lasting impact on our peers.”
Hendershot and Chadwick have titled their project “kNOw means NO,” a play on the more commonly known anti-rape slogan “no means no.” Their primary goal is to educate students about the current sexual violence issue at Blacksburg High and what can be done to remediate it.
In early January, they released an online student-survey to gather data about current student experiences with and perceptions of sexual violence. According to a 2011 survey by the American Association of University Women, 58% of 7th-12th graders experience sexual harassment in a given school year. During Sexual Violence Awareness Week, they plan to release their own findings.
The week will feature a number of activities designed to raise school and community awareness. Hendershot and Chadwick plan to deliver presentations and distribute fact sheets to Junior and Senior English classes. They have also designed TV advertisements, hall posters, and intercom announcements for every school day.
The main event will take place on the afternoon of Friday, January 15, when the school will be showing the documentary The Mask You Live In at 5 PM in the auditorium. Hendershot writes, “The movie shows how we as a society can raise a healthier generation of boys and men in order to stop the continuation of sexual violence.” Admission is free and all members of the Blacksburg community are invited. WSLS 10, The Roanoke Times, and Mayor Ron Rordam have also been invited.
“By bringing awareness to these problems in our school, I hope that my peers will carry this message with them throughout the rest of their lives. Hopefully the small role we play in bringing awareness to the problem will make a difference,” Chadwick concluded.