The call of action was for all men to stand up and take the pledge.
“I pledge to help stop domestic violence because…”
That simple pledge garnered the attention of hundreds of student-athletes across north Texas last year and has now extended internationally.
Josh Ragsdale, head football coach of W. H. Adamson High School, along with members of his football team, started the campaign from scratch more than one year ago.
This year the campaign is asking all men to put an end to violence against women.
“We began the project wanting to reach men in Dallas, “ said Ragsdale. “ We wanted one young man from every high school to take the pledge. By the time last year’s project was over my players asked me, ‘Why just Dallas, why not more?’ ”
Since that time, pledges have poured in to Coach Ragsdale and his team, as they approach the second year of the campaign.
Domestic Violence Awareness month begins Oct. 1 nationally. Pledges collected by the Adamson football team during the last few weeks will be posted on the Adamson Leopard athletics Twitter and Facebook pages daily.
“We’re not asking for money, we’re not asking for a lot of time,” Ragsdale said. “This is something that is very simple to do. The simplicity of it is what makes it so neat.”
Because of their efforts, the initiative has lead to a roundtable discussion with nearly a dozen women rights activists from Bangladesh. The women, brought by a partnership with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort-Worth and the U.S. Department of State, set out to meet the strong voice behind Adamson High School’s Stop Domestic Violence campaign. Using an interpreter during the symposium, Ragsdale admits he never would have imagined how viral this campaign would have gone.
Huddled around him, each pair of eyes in the room never lost focus of Ragsdale’s message and learning about why the program has had strong success. Many of these women grew up in home environments where men abused them. One of the Bangladesh delegates, dressed in a green and gold saree cloth, speaks up.
“We are breaking the silence. We [didn’t] have laws, but after research we were able to get a law created,” said Jinat Ara Haque.
After more than 25 years, these women’s rights activists helped get a domestic violence law passed in 2010.
Since they began their research in 1984, they discovered that 87 percent of women faced physical domestic violence from their intimate partners in Bangladesh. However, in recent years, the group of activists noticed a decrease as the number of reporting cases was down. Haque and her fellow activists say this is likely because of women falling silent, refusing to speak out against their husbands.
In the closed-meeting discussion, she further explained to the Adamson students that abuse against women is more than physical.
“We declared domestic violence as mental, sexual, physical and economical,” explained Haque.
For student-athlete, Joshua Taylor, this discussion hits home. Having lived in an environment where he witnessed mistreatment of women, he plans to carry his pledge commitment beyond the campaign cycle.
“When I grow up and have children of my own, I am going to teach them that domestic violence is wrong,” Taylor said.
Because of the grassroots campaign birthed out of Adamson, Hague believes more young men like Taylor will be proponents of ending violence against women. Ragsdale ended the intimate dialogue by offering his support with their activism efforts, while thanking them for the invite to share the program successes.
Ragsdale plans to continue the campaign for years to come. Next year the team will shift its focus to include women.
For now, he says collecting each pledge helps build life skills in each of the young men he has the opportunity to impact one day at a time.
“We live in a fatherless society,” Ragsdale said. “For four years we have an opportunity to teach them to be men.”