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Protecting Children from Violence
Self-defense training for kids.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Introduction
• Part 2: Talk to Strangers
• Part 3: Don't Yell = Yell!!!
• Part 4: Self-defense
 Related Resources
• Force Continuum
• Martial Arts: Beginners
• Martial Arts: Kids
• Stopping School Violence
• Why Kids Should Study Martial Arts
 From Other Guides

• ChildWatch
• Protecting Teens from Violence
• Review of "Protecting the Gift"

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Gavin de Becker, Inc.
• Kidnapped: Elizabeth Smart
• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
• Yello Dyno
 Compare Prices
• Book: "Protecting the Gift"


Knowing that it's OK to use force to defend one's self is one thing. Knowing how to do it is another.

Security experts like Gavin de Becker know, as do martial artists, that such knowledge comes with practice and experience. In the same way that adults "practice" fighting through sparring with partners, kids need to practice their assertiveness, evasion, escape, and fighting skills.

Scenario-based Training

While many kids' martial arts classes go a long way toward empowering children with self-defense skills, the physical knowledge is wasted unless kids know when and in what situations to use those skills. Some martial arts instructors walk kids through scenarios--what do you do if a man tries to get you into his car? What do you do if a man grabs your arm? The response may be a simple, firm, "No!", or it may be a series of strikes and kicks and an escape move.

The best scenario-based training involves padded "assailants", allowing kids to fight back with full-power strikes and kicks. Such training may be already available in your kids' martial arts school, or through special seminars.

Harden the Target

Military types describe defensive measures as "hardening the target". In the military, it's setting up barbed wire and armed patrols around an airbase. For your kids, it's giving them the mental and social skills (threat identification, assertiveness, plans of action) and the physical skills (self-defense/martial arts training) they need to protect themselves. One universal notion in crime is that predators seek out victims who lack defenses--all children nominally fall within this group. By providing our kids with defensive measures, we make them less likely to become victims.

Keeping Kids Safe

We can't keep our kids under our constant protection forever. Eventually they'll grow from crawling to walking to riding a bike around the block, to driving off to college. But we can do all we can to instill in them self-protective skills. We can teach them ways to keep themselves safe. And in doing so, we put our fears to rest.

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