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Protecting Our Children

Guiding Teens about Personal Defense

By JoAnn Hamilton
September 7, 2005

There are choices that a young woman can make that will prevent or diminish her chances of ever becoming a victim of assault, according to Stacey DeMille Wardwell in her book “Be Not Afraid.” In her book, Wardwell discusses how to recognize and avoid predators and how to interrupt assault patterns. She brings up awareness of different types of assault and stresses the importance of being prepared.

This book is aimed for young women, but I thought there were enough good ideas mentioned that anyone would benefit, even parents of teenage boys. Having no experience in teaching these ideas to teens, I would suggest that you decide in each case and with each teen what to teach. I wouldn't want my teens paranoid, but I found the ideas interesting and helpful.

Wardwell writes that no one deserves to be violated in any way. She emphasizes that it is wise to decide ahead of time how to act in any questionable situation. Wardwell uses an example of someone demanding your purse as you leave your car in a parking lot. There are choices that a person can make. If the person only wants the purse, “stuff is just stuff and you can replace it. This is an issue of your best chance of survival with the least amount of injury to yourself or your assailant. If an assailant demanded my purse, the fact that I am a second-degree Black-Belt in Tae Kwon Do and have been practicing and teaching personal defense for the last 10 years makes no difference. It it's stuff they want, then it's stuff they'll get. My life is just not worth the risk and neither is yours.”

Wardwell suggests that you decide ahead of time what you will and will not defend. Obviously your life and self-respect are worth defending and she explains how this might be done.

Assailants may be painters, florists, ministers, exterminators, workmen and even policemen. Wardwell says that we are often lulled into complacency by appearance and let them enter our homes, walk us to their car, give them our name and address, let them help with groceries or offer them a ride. Wardwell reminds us to be on guard and be alert since 95 percent of the attacks can be prevented.

Since most of the attacks are against females, Wardwell cautions against wearing clothes that call attention to you, avoiding parking lots at night and exercise care at public restrooms. Going with someone is a good idea. And she says, “If you feel uncomfortable for any reason or for no apparent reason at all, alter your plans.”

This book discusses bushes, driveways, choices if you have a problem, the importance of confidence, noise if accosted, and comments that perhaps will discourage an assailant as well as different forms of assault that teenage girls will not recognize as assault, i.e., comments in the hall, inappropriate brushing against their body, etc. Wardwell encourages us to practice saying, “No!” in a forceful way. Choosing to take action and utilizing rage are other forms of self-defense. Wardwell also suggests ways to defend yourself if the attack is physical.

I was impressed with the idea that understanding your choices and the notion that the assailant would provide safety in many instances. I would suggest that parents read this book and then evaluate what you wish to teach your teen.

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