Domestic abuse debate prize for Academy team

Ballymena Academy pupils Jackson Barr, Lucy Bill, Leah Anderson,l and Caleb Dempsey who were the winners of the 1stWomen's Aid Inaugural Debate in the Braid are seen with David Ford, PSNI Detective Chief Superintendant George Claeke and Women' Aid Carol Fordyce.(Submitted)

Ballymena Academy pupils Jackson Barr, Lucy Bill, Leah Anderson,l and Caleb Dempsey who were the winners of the 1stWomen's Aid Inaugural Debate in the Braid are seen with David Ford, PSNI Detective Chief Superintendant George Claeke and Women' Aid Carol Fordyce.(Submitted)

A debating team from Ballymena Academy won the Women’s Aid and PSNI shield after defeating Belfast High at an inaugural schools’ debate on domestic violence.

The four-strong student team from the Academy opposed the motion that “society fails to take domestic and sexual violence seriously” at the debate which was held at Ballymena’s Braid Centre.

Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN) organised the debate in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The event took place ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) and 16 Days of Action; an internationally recognised campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Over 100 attendees heard compelling arguments from both schools before the adjudicators finally declared Ballymena Academy the winners. The Ulster Orchestra put on a moving performance during the interlude.

Ballymena Academy was represented by Jackson Barr, Lucy Bill, Leah Anderson, and Caleb Dempsey.

The school was awarded £250 of Amazon vouchers. Runners-up; Belfast High School was awarded £150 Amazon vouchers.

Presenting the shield, PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke said: “I would like to commend both schools on their performance this evening. It is evident that they have put in a lot of hard work and preparation in the lead up to tonight’s debate so well done.”

Rosemary Magill from Women’s Aid ABCLN added: “Tonight is very important for women and children who have been subjected to violence and abuse in their homes and lives.

“This is the first year that that such a debate has taken place and we are grateful for the support we have received from the schools and our partners in PSNI.

“Unfortunately, domestic violence is all too prevalent in our communities but events like tonight help to raise awareness of the issue.”

Support can be accessed by calling The Naomi Centre on 02825 632136 or the government funded 24hr Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414 (Open to all women and men affected by domestic and sexual violence).

Alternatively read about services by visiting www.womens-aid.org.uk

To help support children and young people affected by domestic violence, text Donate WAID 15 £3 TO 70070

Join in the 16 Days of Action conversation on Twitter using #16DaysOfAction