Teen-Led BART Campaign Brings Attention to Sexual Harassment on Transit

The Not One More Girl initiative seeks to implement tangible changes to improve the safety of young people on public transit.

2 minute read

May 18, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Not One More Girl campaign graphic

BART, the Alliance for Girls, Betti Ono, Black Girls Brilliance, and The Unity Council’s Latinx Mentorship and Achievement Program / Not One More Girl

A teen-led initiative called Not One More Girl is taking on sexual harassment on Bay Area public transit. Two of the initiative's leaders, Uche Esomonu and Riss Myung, write in Teen Vogue that they "wanted to work outside the traditional structure of police response to reimagine safety, shepherding significant changes that increase the security of all BART riders, but especially of girls like us."

The campaign's founders, as teen girls themselves, understand all too well the fear that many young people face when taking public transportation. "We make sure our real-time location is shared with a family or friend. When we get on the train, we take a seat at the back of the car and plug in our earphones. But even with our ears blocked, our eyes remain alert, scanning our surroundings for anyone making sudden, unwelcome movements toward us." A recent report reflected that fear: "of 274 students surveyed, 45.3% did not feel safe taking Bay Area Rapid Transit." Esonomu and Myung write that, like many teens, they have "canceled certain appointments or paid extra money to order an Uber or Lyft because we felt unsafe taking public transportation."

Partnering with BART and other organizations, the young women have developed Not One More Girl into a full-fledged campaign. "Girls made key decisions to drive this initiative and held 100 paid roles, including social media strategy, public speaking, art and campaign design, and focus groups. What’s more, our labor was also valued, with BART paying each youth $18 per hour for their work."

"Tangible changes include improvements like a bystander intervention training video and the ability to report incidents of sexual harassment. Additionally, the BART Watch app, which allows the public to report suspicious activity to BART police, was updated to include information on sexual harassment incidents, providing metrics that can help authorities better assess public safety."

"We expanded reporting channels for sexual harassment and are giving survivors the right to determine what avenue of help is best for them — which includes saying no to police intervention. Impacted people now have the option to defer to immediate crisis help through community organizations like Bay Area Women Against Rape." By listening to the voices of teens like them, write Esomonu and Myung, "BART became a leader in centering youth in addressing gender-based violence and reimagining safety."

The campaign's founders call on other transit agencies to take similar actions to protect young people on public transit and improve safety for everyone.

Thursday, May 6, 2021 in Teen Vogue

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