Women’s Safety Series Pt. 2: In the Centennial Community

Women’s Safety Series Pt. 2: In the Centennial Community

[TW for mentions of sexual harrasment]

In September 2021, the Gabby Petito case made international headlines, pulling at the heartstrings of individuals across the globe. While the case has been categorized as one of domestic violence, women’s safety is a mere umbrella term for instances of domestic violence, as well sexual assault, workplace harassment, rape, human trafficking, and more.

Gabby Petito’s story has moved members of the Centennial student body to open up about their own experiences. “I feel like a lot of times we brush over serious topics like this,” senior Ellie Costello explained, “but I think it’s necessary to talk about these things in order to lower the chances of it happening more and more.”

Senior Kenzie Veres recalled quitting her job due to an uncomfortable workplace environment. She described feeling “constantly on edge” due to her manager’s harsh words and degrading tone. The final straw occurred after her co-worker was sexually harassed by one of the owners. “You shouldn’t have to be on edge as a teenage girl when you’re just trying to make some extra gas money,” Veres explained.

Costello further noted the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings when alone, a lesson she quickly learned from her daily workouts at the gym. “One specific time when I was at the gym, a man started to follow me around and create small talk,” Costello recounted. “My phone was on low battery, and I was nervous and uncomfortable because I was alone.”

In order to continue to raise awareness for women’s safety at a school-wide level, four female students in the Senior Project Lead the Way course, Anji Claus, Samantha Freed, Rose Huang, and Elyse Jun, have decided to take action by dedicating their year-long engineering assignment to researching and developing an invention that will help women feel safer in public. As the only women in their class, the group wanted to focus their attention on an issue that was relatable and would leave an impact. With the help of local authorities and administration, Freed spoke for the group in stating their hope to “create a device that can be used anytime and anywhere to make women feel safer.” 

According to various sources including Streetblog USA and Refinery 29, an alarming 4 out of 5 women in the US feel unsafe walking home alone. After surveying 160 Centennial students at random, the PLW group determined 80% of them said the same.

Although they are still in the early stages of project development, the team has begun to explore possible designs for a self-defense tool. “We’ve thought about a bracelet, one with a camera and/or tracker,” Freed described. “You could squeeze [the device] when you are in need and it would send a signal, your location, or picture to the police or an emergency contact.” Additionally, the team has considered a portable gadget similar to the “monkey’s fist,” a cord of rope knotted at the end which appears like a fist, but has a metal weight tied inside. Many women admit to carrying pepper spray attached to their car keys or in their purse; the team wants to continue that trend by offering a small, accessible alternative. Working under time and budgeting constraints is a challenge, but with continual research and a well-formulated course of action, the group will produce their final product come spring. 

While it is sometimes easier to allow global issues to fade into the background of daily life, it is important to discuss and advocate for women’s safety because chances are, you know many who are a part of the 4 out of 5.


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