National School Walkout Day

About National School Walkout Day

A day where students or any concerned parties will protest in line with the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement by being absent from school both offline and online.

Public Statement

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 APRIL 2021
Youth and Student Activists have joined in solidarity with the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement, as well as students and ex-students who came forward with their stories. The recent accounts of rape jokes, sexual harassment, and period spot checks perpetrated by teachers and wardens also exposed systemic failures when students and parents seek justice. Hence, we are mobilising in protest and will be organising a National School Walkout Day to demand immediate reform.

Rape and sexual harassment cases in schools often go unreported to safeguard reputation of schools and perpetrators, while the current public statistics are limited in detail to see the bigger picture. Therefore, with regards to the recent issue of students speaking out on rape culture and sexual offences in their schools, it is important that these voices are amplified and taken into serious consideration to set in motion reform in schools across Malaysia. Instead, teachers, classmates and other members of the public have been making rape jokes and other inappropriate remarks in light of these stories.

Prior to this, there have also been revelations about “period spot checks”, in which teachers and wardens demand that female Muslim students show their pads or use other shameful and abusive methods to prove that they are on their period. The numerous accounts from survivors and witnesses clearly indicate consistent violations of child rights to privacy and safety.

Despite all these revelations, the response by the relevant government authorities has been shown on the record to be dismissive. The Deputy IGP Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah in a press conference described a recent rape threat case between students as merely ‘a joke’, while the Education Minister Dr. Mohd Radzi Md Jidin has publicly stated that there has been no evidence of period spot checks. Teachers and even counselors have also been caught ridiculing these accounts online and in WhatsApp groups.

We are extremely concerned about the prevalence of these issues and are enraged by the lack of attention and comprehensive action from the relevant government authorities. As such, we have decided to collectively table this protest, mobilising the cause behind #MakeSchoolASaferPlace. We demand the people in power to start making institutional changes so that systemic rape culture, whether in the form of normalisation of rape jokes, sexist attitudes, rape threats, or victim blaming, as well as sexual offences should be rooted out by providing formidable reporting and response frameworks, as well as ensuring that academic staff are trained to handle these cases with care.

We, the NSWD Alliance of NGOs, youths, parents, and teachers, would like to organise a Nationwide School Walkout Day, a day where students and teachers alike protest by being absent for 1(one) school day, or 1(one) class period, both online and offline, on Thursday 6th May 2021 or Friday 7th May 2021. These options will allow local communities of students, parents and teachers nationwide to coordinate their own protests safely.

Details of the protest plan and how this movement can be supported are as listed below. We believe that a coordinated walkout a week from now would be a powerful statement to the authorities that we condemn sexual harassment. We also firmly stand by the notion of power in numbers, thus we want more students, teachers and any members of the public to take a stand in solidarity with the victims. We sincerely hope through this call to action, the hashtag #MakeSchoolASaferPlace will not die down as a mere trend but will be an ongoing movement to help challenge the norms that have been set in place, and to encourage more advocacy for change in the future.

Our walkout demands are as follows:

1) We emphasise that students have a right to privacy and safety on school grounds.

2) We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be recognised and treated as a serious offence in and outside school by the students, teaching staff, school board and authorities.

3) We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be met with serious consequences and immediate action from the school.

4) We demand that all students who have come forward with their stories be listened to, respected, protected from further abuse and given any other necessary support.

5) We stress that all students should receive protection and other forms of support while speaking up and protesting for their rights in and outside of school.

Here are the following ways to participate in a Physical Walkout:

Not attending physical classes
With consent from parent/guardian, students will not attend school for ONE full day.

OR

Not attending one class period
With support from the teacher or school, students will safely walk out of the classroom for one class period.

OR

White ribbon with a red streak or pattern
Students and the general public can use this as a sign of solidarity. Any other design or items related to the theme can also be used.

Alternatively, here are the ways to conduct an Online Walkout:

Not attending online classes
With consent from parent/guardian, students will not attend online school for one full day or one class period.

OR

Protest in class
Use #MakeSchoolASaferPlace as profile name and/or pic while in class. Place digital or physical placard with #MakeSchoolASaferPlace on screen or in the background.

For further information, guidelines, and resources, please visit https://nswdmy.carrd.co or contact NSWD Alliance at [email protected].

NSWD Alliance is a coalition of
1) Monsters Among Us
2) Demokrat Kebangsaan
3) Young Democrats Malaysia
4) Rape Watchdog

The following organisations support our call for action:
1) Women’s March MY
2) GERAK
4) Sekolah Semua
5) Undi18
6) Malaysian Youths for Education Reform (MYER)
7) Youths.my
8) KRYSS Network
9) All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
10) Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
11) Pelangi Campaign
12) Sisters in Islam
13) Solidariti Pendidikan
14) FiftyFiftyMalaysia
15) Kolektif Bunga Raya
16) CybHer
17) YWILD Malaysia

Our Demands

We emphasise that students have a right to privacy and safety on school grounds.

Students should be aware of their personal rights and their safety in schools. Academic staff should also respect their rights and boundaries as well as being held liable for violating any of these rights. In light of recent allegations, there needs to be retraining of academic staff and relevant authorities in terms of what these boundaries are and to ensure that they are prepared to handle and speak on such cases with sensitivity while respecting the students' privacy.

We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be recognised and treated as a serious offence in and outside school by the students, teaching staff, school board and authorities.

This is a call to begin more dialogues and awareness on sexual harassment in all areas. We are seeking reformation in educating and destigmatising the normalisation of rape culture and to prevent the bystander effect from occuring when reporting such cases.

We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be met with serious consequences and immediate action from the school.

This demand seeks to urge authorities and organisations to have clearer frameworks, processes and support systems on how to report abuse. Beyond these reports, the relevant parties should take immediate action in terms of extensive investigation of such occurrences and imparting harsh punishments in line with the victims' wishes and trauma support such as suspension or expulsion if necessary, for students who perpetuate such behaviours and are unwilling to learn from their mistakes; firing academic staff and reporting them as well as blacklisting may prove to be a useful tool. All these precautions and consequences should be taken into consideration so that all relevant members can acquire a clear and concise understanding that such practices are not tolerated and will be swiftly removed.

We demand that all students who have come forward with their stories be listened to, respected, protected from further abuse and given any other necessary support.

This is a demand seeking for reformation on how victims' reports are trivialised and mostly left unreported as a result. Victims often have to undergo further traumatising experiences dealing with online hate and harassment if they have spoken out on the internet or face such treatment by their peers in real life. Therefore, this demand intends for relevant authorities to provide better measures for supporting victims during the process of reporting and after, through trauma counselling for the victims, more prevention methods to reduce sexual harassment cases from occuring and institutional change towards the attitudes of the authorities such cases are being reported to.

We stress that all students should receive protection and other forms of support while speaking up and protesting for their rights in and outside of school.

Youths are the future of our nation and they should be allowed to protest as well as fight for their collective rights so that such events can be rooted out from the schooling environment. Thus, with this in mind, while protesting, students should receive the necessary protection and precautionary measures to safeguard their personal security and prevent any doxxing and future harassment from occurring.

Protest Guidelines

Physical Protest

Not attending physical classes
With consent from parent/guardian, students will not attend school for ONE full day.

OR

Not attending one class period
With support from the teacher or school, students will safely walk out of the classroom for one class period.

OR

White ribbon with a red streak or pattern
Students and the general public can use this as a sign of solidarity. Any other design or items related to the theme can also be used.

Online Protest

Not attending online classes
With consent from parent/guardian, students will not attend online school for one full day or one class period.

OR

Protest in class
Use #MakeSchoolASaferPlace as profile name and/or pic while in class. Place digital or physical placard with #MakeSchoolASaferPlace on screen or in the background.

Media Kit

Please download our parent letter template and other protest templates below.

We've also prepared zoom backgrounds, icons and headers you can use for your online protests!

FAQ

What is National School Walkout Day?
National School Walkout Day is a day where students or any concerned parties will protest in line with the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement by being absent from school both offline and online.

Why protest this way, won’t protesting online be sufficient?
We believe that online protests can only have a limited reach, by protesting with this walkout, it shows the severity of this issue and how the youths today can mobilise to make a positive change in their schooling environment.

Who is behind the team for NSWD?
We are a group of concerned youths and activists. We created this movement because further action needs to be taken for authorities to see this movement as not just a one-off trend but an ongoing protest for the reformation of safety in schools.

Are you promoting truancy?
No. We firmly stand against truancy as that is not our intention. Because students are underage and are still under their parents’/guardians’ care, they will need to seek their permission in order to participate in the walkout. However, we understand that it is difficult to ensure that all students follow this but we sincerely hope that in our messaging this is emphasised and conveyed effectively. Additionally, the walkout is not the only option we have provided and there are other ways students can participate in this without risking their personal safety.

How does this walkout work?
Please check our protest guidelines here.

Do your demands overlap with other organisations who have spoken about the issue?
Yes, we are demanding change especially in terms of the policies held in place by the authorities. However, our current scope and call to action is specific to students and academic staff protesting as well as amplifying this message so that there is more pressure to reform.

Security Measures

NSWD wants to conduct this as safely as possible since this movement involves students who are underage to participate. Thus, we would like to highlight some key points of understanding the risk involved in protesting as well as the security measures that need to be taken.

Knowing the Risk: For Students

Students who wish to participate in the walkout, please understand that there is risk involved in protesting in this manner. As students, you are still under the care of your parents/guardians and as such, if you wish to conduct this walkout, it is vital that you seek your parents’/guardians’ permission for this. A letter template for parents to send to schools is available here. Parents/guardians may send this to their school to inform them about their child's absence in support of the movement.

With regards to protesting at school, please understand the risk of getting tagged online and the potential of future bullying as well as harassment. This is an extremely serious matter that is not to be taken lightly. This protest should NOT be treated as an excuse to skip school. This protest seeks to emphasize the urgency of reform, we are unable to do that without the safe involvement of students and parents. Please assess your safety in terms of how you are able to participate and be wary of the potential risks that are involved in this protest.

Protest Safety Guidelines/Best Practices When Protesting

Your safety comes first.
For students and academic staff who are conducting the walkout in schools, please ensure that all the relevant Covid-19 SOPs are followed such as social distancing of 1 meter and mandatory masks. However, understanding the limitations of the school space, alternatives can be organised by the academic staff. The key point for the walkout in schools is for normal schooling activities for one class period to be halted so that students can learn more about the current movement and to deconstruct sexual harassment and rape culture norms in schools.

For students who wish to participate in NSWD via wearing the white ribbon in public, please prioritise your safety and only wear/place the ribbon at a visible place if the situation is safe. If the situation is unsafe, e.g. presence of unsupportive teachers/school staff, unsupportive classmates or parents, please immediately remove the ribbon from sight and keep it hidden.

Your physical and emotional wellbeing should always take priority.

For students protesting online by changing profile pictures and meeting backgrounds, this is still a form of protest so do proceed with caution. In the event that you are told to take down your profile picture and meeting background, it would be advisable to take them down as we wish to ensure students do not face punishment for protesting.

Posting on social media.

We understand that social media is a powerful platform to spread awareness on topics and if you wish to share how you are participating in this movement, here are some guidelines on how you can post about this safely.

Do not reveal any personal information or location.
When posting pictures, please ensure that your face or any of your friends’ faces are kept concealed or not in the picture at all. School logos and names should not be in the picture as well to prevent doxxing and future harassment.

When sending support photos to us.
If it is unsafe for you to post pictures about supporting the protest, you may reach out to us via dms and we can help to repost your photos as well as censoring any sensitive information.

Blocking and reporting practices.
If you receive any comments harassing you or threatening your safety, it is advised to block the account user and to report them when necessary. If the situation has escalated, privating your account will help to ensure your safety and well-being can be prioritised.

Parent Letter

For parents who are in solidarity with this movement, we have prepared a letter template that you can copy to be used to send to schools. If you'd like to download an editable word document or access BM or Mandarin templates, please click the following buttons.

Dear <School Head Teacher>,

I am a parent of a student at <School’s Name> writing concerning the recent issue of students speaking out on rape culture and sexual harassment in their schools. Teachers, classmates and members of the public have also been making rape jokes and other inappropriate remarks in light of these stories. Prior to this, there have been revelations about “period spot checks”, in which teachers and wardens demand that female Muslim students show their pads or use other shameful and abusive methods to prove that they are on their period. These occurrences are unacceptable in schools especially since most of the perpetrators of these are school teachers themselves.

Hence, I believe that if firm action has not been taken to address these issues, this will continue to perpetuate a culture that is unsafe for my child at school and I am concerned about the school’s finesse to ensure the safety of my child. It is of even more concern when despite numerous accounts from young women and girls coming forward about their traumatizing experiences and the public outrage that followed, the Education minister Radzi Jidin has stated that there has been no evidence of such practices. This response shows that there will be no moves to #MakeSchoolASaferPlace.

<OPTIONAL: Your child’s personal experience when they felt unsafe at school, or any specific concerns regarding your local school>

With my consent my child will not be attending school on the <6th or 7th>
of May 2021 to demand change and mobilising the cause behind #MakeSchoolASaferPlace . The demands from my child are as follows:

1. We emphasise that students have a right to privacy and safety on school grounds.

2. We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be recognised and treated as a serious offence in and outside school by the students, teaching staff, school board and authorities.

3. We demand that sexual harassment, abuse and assault be met with serious consequences and immediate action from the school.

4. We demand that all students who have come forward with their stories be listened to, respected, protected from further abuse and given any other necessary support.

5. We stress that all students should receive protection and other forms of support while speaking up and protesting for their rights in and outside of school.

I do hope that as the school management you will support the students in their demands and make ensuring the safety and protection of all the students the highest priority.

Sincerely,
<Your name>,
<Your address>
<Your phone number>

Resources

Supporting Student Voices:

Statistics:

Mental Health Resources:

Survivor Resources:

Educational Resources: