Student athletes raise awareness through Purple Ribbon Campaign

Written by Emma Rogers

“Young athletes are taught how to deal with adversity, how to cope with struggles, and how to communicate during tense situations. We as coaches are afforded the unique opportunity to instill such skills in our athletes, the same skills that are needed to make change in their personal relationships.” -Hank Carter, Lake Travis High School Athletic Director/Head Football Coach

Student athletes from an array of Central Texas high schools filled the Travis County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 27 to kick off the 7th annual Domestic Violence Awareness Purple Ribbon Campaign.

Adorned with purple ribbons and purple shoelaces, varsity football and volleyball players from 33 local high schools in 13 different school districts will be spreading awareness about domestic violence and teen dating violence this season.

SAFE’s Expect Respect program discusses these issues with students all the time. Student athletes, advocates say, can have an amplified impact and thus are the focus of the Purple Ribbon Campaign.

“Athletes are natural leaders. If we, as advocates, can get athletes to be a part of this movement of awareness, then they are the natural leaders that we can bring from out of the locker room and into the schools and the community,” Expect Respect Facilitator Kareem Muhammed said.

At the event, Travis County detectives and Expect Respect staff had conversations with the athletes about relationship violence and what they can do to educate their peers.

“Lots of people will say that domestic violence is wrong, but won’t necessarily do anything about it. This is an opportunity for the athletes to put their foot forward and be able to connect what they know in their head with their heart and assist in solving this issue,” said Marcus Griggs, Expect Respect Facilitator.

The kickoff event’s timing is purposeful — October is domestic violence awareness month — but the issues the campaign addresses need to be an ongoing discussion.

“It’s not just about October. It’s not about ripping the ribbon off after the season ends. It’s about raising awareness, keeping awareness and becoming the purple ribbon 24/7, 12 months a year,” Kareem said.

About Expect Respect

Expect Respect engages youth and adults in building healthy relationships and preventing violence and abuse. Serving local schools since 1988, Expect Respect offers a comprehensive approach to supporting vulnerable youth and creating safe and supportive learning environments.