SOS has begun renewing the Safe Bar program for local bars with a training at Mulready’s Pub on Sunday, July 30. Mulready’s was the first local bar to receive the Safe Bar training after SOS joined the Safe Bar Alliance in 2018. Mulready’s changed hands recently, and new owners Meghann Worthing and Joe Reed feel it is important to continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment for bar patrons. During Safe Bar training, staff are educated on how to recognize the warning signs of predatory behavior, how to intervene in potentially negative situations, when to take action and how to help prevent sexual violence. SOS and bar staff discuss what the staff experiences specific to their business and create an action plan for each situation. SOS Safe Bars have SOS contact information readily available, have SOS information posted in their business, and are given promotional materials like coasters and koozies to remind patrons of their Safe Bar status. Staff are trained to be available and prepared to assist, and patrons are encouraged to seek help from bar staff when they are feeling uncomfortable or if someone is bothering them. Safe Bars also provide a private place a customer can use to call 9-1-1 or SOS for immediate help.
SOS collaborates with community partners on a variety of programs to educate and reduce violence in Chase, Coffey, Morris, Lyon and Osage counties. Members of the Safe Bar initiative work with local bars to help them know what to do when they witness alarming behaviors in their establishment. The SOS Safe Bar program was inspired by The Care Center in Lawrence, the organization that started the Safe Bar Alliance. The Care Center initially provided training materials and information for SOS to use as they implemented the Safe Bar program locally. The goal of Safe Bar initiative is to work with bars to keep their staff and customers safer from predatory behavior, sexual harassment and sexual assault. SOS will be training or renewing training for other bars in the counties that they serve in the coming months.
Most people are told to watch for date rape drugs like GHB and rohypnol while out having fun, but alcohol is most often the substance used to perpetrate sexual violence. SOS hopes that Safe Bars will allow people to socialize in bars without the stress of predators bothering them and with the relief of knowing their bartender has been trained by SOS to help prevent sexual assault. SOS does not believe that every bar is a good fit for this program, as there are some bars that are not able to do the things that SOS requires or may not have a supportive attitude towards the idea of a Safe Bar. SOS considers each request to become a Safe Bar carefully.
Bars that are interested in becoming a Safe Bar or local businesses interested in becoming a Safe Place can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-343-8799 and ask to learn more about these programs. Those who have experienced sexual and domestic violence, stalking, or human trafficking can contact SOS to confidentially speak to an advocate 24-hours a day at 1-800-825-1295 or by texting SOSKS to 847411.
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