Self defense shields vulnerable teens
March 26, 2019
The world has always been a dangerous place, and many parents fear for their children’s safety when they are out on their own or with friends because of dangerous people they could encounter. As a result, parents settle by pounding advice and warnings into their kids’ heads about not talking to strangers or jumping into vans, but it can never satiate their anxiety once they see them step out the door.
Beth Ogle, (Full Disclosure: Beth Ogle is the writer’s mother) mother of three, feels this fear stronger than most. When she was 9-years-old, she was almost kidnapped.
“The only thing that kept me from being taken was remembering my parents telling me never to talk or leave with a stranger,” Beth said.
Beth stood, waiting at the grocery store entrance for her mother, when a man approached her. He tried several times to convince her to follow him to his vehicle, but she refused, and Beth says that the man continued his bribes until she warned him that her mother was exiting the store to meet her. He then quickly disappeared, and Beth recalled the event to her mother who was mortified. Her parent’s advice and the bad feeling in her gut saved her that day, but she was still vulnerable as well as young, and if she wasn’t in such a populated area with a guardian, who knows what the man would’ve tried to do.
What happens when danger is inevitable, and avoidance or stalling for an adult isn’t an option? How can adults help better prepare youth to protect themselves?
According to FBI statistics, nearly 1500 children are taken yearly and about 80 percent of those are 12-17-year-old girls. Often the kidnapper knows the child and can manipulate the situation versus resorting to violence. Strangers do not have that trust.
Products like pepper spray, small knives, and stun guns are great to keep on hand when you can, but most devices are prohibited in high school or college campuses. Non-violent devices like rape whistles or tactical flashlights would be the safest to carry legally, but they would be far less effective for a teen in a situation that requires physical force rather than distraction.
Abduction isn’t the only worry of parents either. Sexual assault and rape are becoming a massive public concern, with 66% of perpetrators being either strangers or acquaintances to
the victims. Movements such as the #MeToo movement have been activated to help victims share their stories and bring incarceration to their assailants.
Teenagers between 16 and 19 have a 3.5 times greater chance of being sexually assaulted and/or raped than the rest of the overall public, and around 1.8 million teenagers in the United States have been victimized.
“I don’t realize exactly how to prevent something happening to me like being kidnapped or sexually assaulted, and it’s definitely something to be aware of,” says Stephanie Case, sophomore.
What steps can be taken to further secure their safety and well-being?
What’s a better way to protect yourself than with your own body and mind? It’s always a good idea to carry a self-defense product with you, but what happens when you forget it that day, or its not legal to have on you, or they have been taken away by the attacker? You have nothing left to defend yourself with other than your own smarts and strength.
That is why it’s so imperative that children and young adults learn hand-to-hand self-defense. Whether to enroll in a martial arts academy or even learning online with a friend for a practice buddy- all kids should find a way to learn at least the basic procedures for survival in situations where they are confronting an assailant.
There are plenty of resources in Indiana, like Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, that have programs for kids, teens, and adults who seek to learn martial arts and/or self-defense procedures. Some places teach karate or taekwondo, while others master in jiu-jitsu or judo- choice of which one to sign up for simply depends on priorities and interest.
These programs don’t just focus on self-defense either! They are all about empowerment, confidence, fitness, and respect as well! Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy has what they call “bullyproof” kid’s classes that teach young ones how to avoid fighting if possible, how to know the difference between a dangerous and safe situation, and when its better to fight or flee if the situation calls for it. Martial Arts are helpful for relieving stress, making friends, exercising frequently, and boosting self-esteem as well, so why not try it out?
You never know when learning moves like escaping choke-holds or deflecting harmful blows could be useful in the future to protect yourself. Whether by yourself or in the company of others, knowing basic self-defense procedures and carrying protective products may just save your life and the life of those around you, so don’t hesitate to take action and learn how to better prepare for the worst.
“Overall the best strategy is to fight with everything you have,” Beth said. “You should use your instincts.”