“We won’t stay silent about domestic violence”. That is the message Year 7 students, from Canberra’s Caroline Chisholm School, have made loud and clear through an inspiring self-driven school project.
In September this year, students began a poignant conversation with their English teacher Annalise Pippard. “We have voices and want to be heard,” said one of the students. Not only did Pippard listen, but she asked them what it was that they had to say. What followed was a discussion of ideas; politics, animal cruelty, racial and environmental issues, world peace, and domestic violence, to name but a few.
“We underestimate kids too often,” said Pippard. “They can think for themselves. My job as a teacher is to provide the environment for them to think about the world, and to let them know that they have a right to be heard.”
With the support of the school the interim principal Kris Willis, Caroline Chisholm School students embarked on a rigorous process of research.
From the age of 15, one woman in three will experience physical violence, and nearly every week an Australian woman is killed by a former or current partner.
One Australian woman out of five has experienced sexual violence, and more than half of the women who experienced violence had children in their care when the violence took place.
Females under the age of twenty-four experience significantly higher rates of violence than any other demographic.
And I’ll just say it one more time … nearly every week an Australian woman is killed by a former or current partner.
It is often the case that campaigns which seek to focus on violence towards women will inevitably attract the useless criticisms of the ‘what about men’ group.
As man who has been beaten and feared for his life, just recently, in an unprovoked violent attack, I say to these people: get over yourselves. All violence is unjust. Australia has a serious and specific cultural problem of men being violent to women.
Let’s address the problem together.
Saying no to violence against women should be an empowering and strengthening experience for any man, especially a young man.
On the 16th of November, Pippard’s students launched the Caroline Chisholm School Domestic Violence Campaign at a school assembly.
During the assembly, speeches were delivered by Michael Costigan (from the Tara Costigan Foundation), Martina Taliano (from Inanna Inc.), and local White Ribbon ambassador Matt Hollis.
During the assembly, the school recited the White Ribbon oath to “stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women”.
The most significant part of this school project is the YouTube film created and produced by the students themselves.
You can view and share the film here using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRXr8LsbRQ0&feature=youtu.be
You can also meet the children at Garema Place on White Ribbon day, this Wednesday the 25th, from 10am until 2pm where they will be selling white ribbons. Please come along and meet them!
To think creatively and critically, to cultivate curiosity, to reason, and to ask questions, are the fundamental components to the development of a compassionate society. But to truly create a better, fairer, future for all of us we must act on those impulses, and act is exactly what the community of Caroline Chisholm School did.
‘It is truly a fantastic school,” said Pippard. “They really are encouraging innovative learning.”
I truly hope that this initiative is a rousing call to all educators in the ACT to trust and believe in their students, and to engage with them on a very real level. And I truly hope that every Australian watches this video to see what Canberra kids can really do! Congratulations, Canberra is proud of you.
There are several events around Canberra to mark White Ribbon Day, also known as the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, tomorrow. White Ribbon Day signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (December 10).