A Rugby League Youth Panel has been launched as part of a Europe-wide campaign to stop sexual harassment towards young people in the sporting environment.
Jamie Elkaleh, Ellie Smith, Jack Phillips and Natalie Carr have created the Rugby League Youth Panel to promote the “1 in 5” campaign. All four ambassadors are involved with Rugby League regularly and are all aged between 16-22 years old, which is the target area of the campaign. They are assisted with help of Colette Eden(RFL Safeguarding Manager), Alex Davidson(Salford RL Player) and Dr Mike Harthill (Lecturer at Edge Hill University).
The aim of the panel is to educate as many people as possible about the facts and figures of young people being sexually violated. By putting the statistics out in the open, they are hoping more people will feel they can speak up about the issue and know exactly where to go for help.
The project (associated with the Council of Europe “ONE in FIVE” campaign to stop sexual violence against children) is led by Sport Austria and funded by the European Union’s DAPHNE III programme. The objective of the project is to empower young Europeans (16-22 years) to combat sexualised violence and gender-based harassment through youth-led campaigns and local cross-sector networks in six European countries, within the context of sport.
The RL Youth Panel section of the campaign is specifically focused around Rugby League and is run through the RFL. As well as running the Rugby League Youth Panel, there are two other associations involved which are the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Edge Hill University (EHU).
Many well known faces in the sport including Rangi Chase, Joshua Charnley, Ray French MBE and BBC Sport Presenter Tanya Arnold are already helping to raise awareness by using the 1 in 5 hand signal on twitter, using the hashtag #Stop1in5 and tweeting @RLYouthPanel. There is also a Facebook Page called “RL Youth Panel – #Stop1in5 Campaign”, with further regular updates of their work.
The RL Youth Panel will conduct a series of regular meetings with our current panel and other volunteers where they will be trained on the project. After training, the volunteers will go into amateur clubs and schools delivering talks and presentations to people aged between 16 and 22, discussing the signs of abuse, how to spot abuse and where to go if you are being abused or recognize somebody else being abused. Following these, the panel will hope that more people are able to speak out about the topic.
The panel are also hoping to attend the Magic Weekend at the Ethiad stadium in May with a stall providing simple questionnaires to do online with a chance to win prizes, leaflets, merchandise, interactive activites and several staff available to answer any questions about the campaign.
If you are interested in getting involved in the campaign as a volunteer at events or being part of the RL Youth Panel please contact them via Twitter @RLYouthPanel to find out more.