CTA revamps anti-harassment campaign


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Chicago Transit Authority recently expanded its anti-harassment program to encourage people to report instances of harassment on public transportation. Changes include a new employee training program and increased advertisements on trains and buses.

Robin Opsahl, Reporter

Chicago Transit Authority is revamping its anti-harassment campaign to include new employee training and expanded advertisements on buses and trains.

CTA officials overhauled the campaign, called “If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment,” because they believe incidences of harassment on CTA transit are underreported, said Tammy Chase, director of communications and media relations at the CTA. Officials said they hope that with increased staff training and rider awareness victims will feel empowered to report harassment.

“CTA is a safe train system, but we’re making more information readily available,” Catherine Hosinski, a spokeswoman for the agency told The Daily. “We are trying to educate riders on what types of behaviors aren’t acceptable and give them ways to report incidences.”

The campaign, a renewal of a 2009 effort, will also include posters and social media messages telling people “Speak Up!” and “We are all Watching.” The goal of the expanded campaign is to get riders who see or experience harassment to report their experiences so offenders can be caught and face punishment.

As CTA renovated the anti-harassment campaign, it consulted external organizations including YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Although Hosinski said she considers CTA a safe transport system, the campaign is a way to make sure people who feel endangered or uncomfortable know there is a system in place to help them.

“The public is a critical partner in battling harassment,” said James Keating, CTA’s chief of security, in a press release. “Reporting incidents is extremely important in increasing safety and helping us to stop offenders from harassing customers.”

CTA has cameras on all buses, trains and rail stations, Keating said. However, CTA hopes with better reporting, police and CTA personnel can work together and use camera footage to enforce anti-harassment policies.

The CTA received 36 reports of harassment last year, two of which were criminal sexual assaults, Hosinski said. CTA installed the security cameras two years ago and saw a major decrease in crime, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

“Though the number of incidents reported to us is small, we take every complaint seriously,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter said in a news release. “Our updated and improved campaign will address some of the most commonly heard customer complaints about harassment on CTA buses and trains.”

Hosinski said the new campaign will help the agency identify patterns of harassment and help prevent harassment from happening in the future.

“Even if what’s happening isn’t criminal, we want people to still report it,” Hosinski said. “If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it shouldn’t happen. Everyone has a right to a comfortable and safe ride.”

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Twitter: @robinlopsahl