Someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American organization that works to stop sexual violence (2018). Not only that, the highest percentage of victims of sexual violence are aged 18-34 (RAINN 2018). Therefore, knowing how to defend oneself against sexual assault is not just a helpful precaution, but a skill set that is becoming increasingly important.
In December 2017, Hanover High School piloted a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Training program to offer female students the opportunity to learn how to defend themselves. Nearly 20 students reported to the gym during school hours for several days to receive training in self-defense from gym teachers and the Hanover Police Department. There will be another training program from March 13th to 15th to offer more students the chance to learn how to protect themselves.
Before bringing the program to Hanover, the HHS PE/ Wellness staff and local resource officer John Voelkel underwent comprehensive training to become certified in female physical defense, according to Mrs Bostwick and Mrs. Della Croce. The objective of the training is “to provide students with self defense knowledge (knowledge is 90% of self defense education) and skills so that if they are ever faced with a situation they will have a variety of escape and counter options at their disposal,” the teachers said. RAD was started at the high school primarily to protect students against sexual attacks. Mrs. Bostwick and Mrs. D added that the program helps bring the community together by involving the Hanover Police Department, and that the training expands the PE/ Wellness curriculum in an important way. Not only does this program prepare women for the future, it is also free of charge.
Though the types of defense strategies are kept confidential to protect the participants of the training, Mrs. Bostwick and Mrs. D. said the defense will help students to feel more capable and ready for whatever might happen in the future. They explained that the training not only teaches physical strategies for protection, but it also grants each participating young women self confidence in knowing that she can protect herself if necessary: “Perhaps one of the best benefits is self-reliance, knowing that you have this inner strength to protect yourself,” the teachers explained.
Kristen Nguyen, an HHS senior who participated in the December RAD training, described how she now feels confident not only in her ability to defend herself while living on a college campus but also in life after graduation. Kristen would recommend the program to other students. “I feel like it’s generally good knowledge to know how to keep yourself safe for college and beyond,” she said. “RAD in general was a welcoming experience to those who might be a bit nervous, and it was fun but also educational.”
In a world where sexual assault statistics are alarmingly high, knowing how to defend oneself provides the confidence and skills to feel safer and more prepared in any situation.
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