CTA Expands Its ‘If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment’ Informational Campaign

October 9, 2015

Public information campaign seeks to heighten awareness that harassment on CTA is not tolerated; CTA encourages customers who believe they are victims to report incidents

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. today announced the CTA is expanding and updating its “If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment” public service campaign. The goal of the campaign is to promote awareness that CTA will not tolerate harassment on its trains, buses or other CTA property and to provide helpful information to customers who believe they are the victims of harassment.

The expanded awareness campaign builds on an earlier, effective version of the campaign that aimed to address harassment while riding the CTA and that established many of the agency’s procedures and protocols that are in place today.

The campaign, developed by CTA and working with community and advocacy organizations, will feature a series of messages that will appear on buses and trains and at train stations beginning today. The campaign will serve three purposes:

  • Encourage customers to report incidents that they experience or witness
  • Educate customers on what to do if they believe they are victims of harassment
  • Create awareness by putting would-be offenders on notice that harassment of CTA passengers will not be tolerated

“The CTA is profoundly committed to providing safe transportation to our customers each and every day,” said Chairman Peterson. “By creating more awareness that harassment is not acceptable on CTA trains and buses, our goal is to empower customers to report incidents and to remind everyone that we do not condone harassing behavior anywhere on our transit system.”

“The comfort and safety of passengers are our top priorities,” said President Carter. “Though the number of incidents reported to us is small, we take every complaint seriously. Our updated and improved campaign will address some of the most commonly heard customer complaints about harassment on CTA buses and trains and send the message that harassment will not be tolerated on our system.”

The campaign includes:

  • Posters on CTA trains and buses that feature messages including “Speak Up!”, “It’s Not OK”, ‘It’s Not Nothing”, and “We Are All Watching”.
  • A dedicated web page at transitchicago.com and a new flyer for distribution at rail stations and through social service agencies. Both will provide information on the simple steps on who to call, how to report incidents and what constitutes harassment; the web page will also provide additional educational and advocacy resources.
  • Social media messages that promote awareness and education.
  • CTA is developing a comprehensive anti-harassment training program for all employees and going forward, CTA will require anti-harassment policy language in all CTA contracts and sub-contracts that states vendors are prohibited from harassment of CTA employees and customers.

To develop the updated campaign, CTA used feedback from customers, local advocates, and insight from CTA security professionals.

As part of its overall efforts to increase safety and security on its rail and bus system, the CTA works closely with the Chicago Police Department and law enforcement in 35 suburbs in investigating complaints. When appropriate, police will pursue enforcement action through the use of CTA’s security network that includes 23,000 cameras on every CTA bus, train and rail station; police surveillance missions; and other activities to enhance safety on CTA.

“The CTA, working closely with Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, has vigorously combatted harassment on trains and buses for years,” said James Keating, CTA Chief of Security. “The public is a critical partner in battling harassment: Reporting incidents is extremely important in increasing safety and helping us to stop offenders from harassing customers.”

Reporting incidents is critical. Though not every harassment incident will be considered a criminal offense or result in arrest, the information provided to the CTA and to police is helpful because it can help determine if there’s a larger pattern of activity that needs to be further investigated by either the CTA or police.

The campaign, developed in-house by CTA staff with input from organizations including Alternatives, Inc., the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Department of Public Health, is the latest public service campaign by the CTA to improve customer communications and passenger comfort. 

“On behalf of the young women we work with, Girl World was excited to work closely with the CTA as it revised this important campaign, “ said Jaime Schmitz, Youth Development Specialist of Alternatives, Incorporated. “Harassment has no place on CTA trains and buses. This campaign reminds individuals that CTA won’t tolerate it and better educates riders on what they should do if they’re victims of harassment. We believe that through the use of PSAs and informative language around the issue of harassment more people will be encouraged to report their experiences and intervene in the event of witnessing someone being harassed.”

“As the largest provider of comprehensive sexual assault services in Illinois and a provider of a variety of educational programs related to safety and harassment, we applaud the CTA’s effort to increase awareness and protect our communities,” said YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Chief Executive Officer Dorri McWhorter.

“The CTA’s anti-harassment campaign helps in our citywide efforts to ensure every Chicagoan can work, live, play and travel in a safe, healthy and secure manner.” said Marlita White, Director, Office of Violence Prevention, Chicago Department of Public Health.

Among other public information efforts since 2011, the CTA launched its Courtesy Campaign earlier this year to promote more courteous behavior among CTA customers, and the “Stay off the tracks, it’s not worth your life” rail safety campaign in 2013 to remind ‘L’ riders about the dangers of trespassing on CTA railroad tracks.

Transit agencies across the country and throughout the world have launched anti-harassment campaigns, targeting similar behaviors and providing enhanced awareness and education as the CTA’s campaign.

The CTA is the nation’s second-largest transit agency, providing about 1.6 million rides on an average weekday.  Each weekday, CTA provides more than 2,200 train trips and more than 19,000 bus trips.

For more information on the campaign, visit: http://www.transitchicago.com/speakup/

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