Statistics show that over 767,000 students in America from ages 12 and 18 have experienced violent crimes, and more than 67 percent of all sexual assault victims were under the age of 18. Youth affected by crime develop lifetime habits of mistrust, low self-esteem and have a greater chance of getting into physical confrontations. It is time that students, from middle schools to colleges, learn how to defend themselves and avoid becoming one of the thousands of victims of violence in America.
Self-defense is traditionally thought of as the ability to fight back. However, it not only incorporates the physical aspects of defending oneself against attacks, but it also teaches mental awareness and prevention tactics to stop crimes before they happen.
There are several reasons why self-defense should be present and taught in all schools:
It Prevents and/or Reduces Bullying
This may sound strange at first. Teaching students to fight decreases fighting in schools? Indeed it does. Self-defense can prevent bullying and violent behavior amongst school students. It is a fact that one out of every ten middle school students in America experiences bullying on a regular basis. The reason for that can be attributed to the fact that some students do not know how to deal with confrontational situations, and thus act out with a physical response in an attempt to resolve the conflict. But when students are taught self-defense, they learn to protect themselves against a bully’s physical prompts. During their classes, various scenarios such as being pinned against a wall, being pushed or being pulled will be simulated. The students would then be shown the tactics to escape or deal with those situations. During that process, bullies become aware that their classmates understand the techniques to counter their attacks. As a result, bullying has declined in schools when the proper self-defense techniques are taught to victims of bullying.
Develops Physical Skills & Fitness
Self-defense students will learn several techniques and skills that could potentially save their lives. Dr. Gong Chen, a professor at the Department of Kinesiology at San Jose State University and a published author of five self-defense books, states that during the physical training stage of self-defense, students would be taught valuable skills to defend themselves against “kicks, punches, grabs, throws, arm-holds, hair-pulls, chokes, bear-hugs, floor holds, gun attacks, knife attacks, stick attacks and multiple-attackers.” Learning how to escape these violent situations can effectively prepare them for real-life encounters. Furthermore, female college students alone improved their ability to deal different attacks with only one semester of learning self-defense. Specifically, they improved “39.5 percent, dealing with kicks and punches, 53.3 percent on keeping their balance when attackers tried to throw them, 81.3 percent on releasing from different holds, 66.4 percent on floor releasing and 46.8 percent countering knife attacks.” With just one semester of training, those students were able to significantly increase their chances of escaping a violent confrontation. In fact, self-defense helped save 59.6 percent of students from crimes of violence, 63.3 percent from rape and 60.5 percent from other assaults.
Teaches Self-Discipline & Engages Student Collaboration
This is one of the most useful purposes of teaching students self-defense. The collaboration involved in their self-defense lessons bring the students together and teaches them to respect one another and their instructors. That can seem too good to be true, but self-defense training has proved to develop self-discipline in students. As they develop control over their own strength and bodies, they are also presented with the opportunity to work together with their classmates in simulated attacks. This brings classmates together, and through their training, students demonstrate and develop respect towards instructors and classmates as well as improve in collaboration with regular schoolwork, according to a study mentioned by Dr. Chen. Additionally, their collaboration can be linked to the decrease of bullying amongst one another in their schools. It is confirmed that students involved in self-defense classes and training demonstrate less violence than those who are not.
Learning self-defense additionally offers the students confidence that is crucial to help them prevent or work through possible physical conflicts. Professor Aaron Banks, a professor from the Department of Health and Exercise Science in Custavus Adolphus College, states that portraying confident behaviors and a determined demeanor lessens a student’s chances of being victimized. Self-confidence would be developed as the student learns how to prevent confrontations as well as how to physically defend themselves. Moreover, a study by Dr. Chen shows that after 30 one-hour self-defense classes students improved their self-confidence, on a scale of one to ten, from “2.9 to 8.4 on preventing violent crimes, 2.3 to 8.2 on mentally handling different violent crimes and 1 to 7.9 on dealing with different physical attacks.” Self-defense classes help students generate self-confidence to avert becoming victims to violent crimes.
Develops Mental Awareness
Mental awareness is another extremely important factor that could help students eliminate any potential for entering a dangerous situation. During the mental aspects of self-defense training, students will be taught assault avoidance strategies “by helping them to critically observe their physical surroundings, the behavior of others and teach them to listen to and trust their own intuition and instincts,” said Aaron Banks. By teaching students to observe the world around them and how criminals work, they could be able to prevent a violent crime before it even happens. They will understand safety actions that will allow them to eliminate the potential for danger.
When taught in the right environment, under the right teacher, students would be given the opportunity to prepare for, and prevent, potentially dangerous situations. They will develop self-discipline, confidence and physical as well as collaborative skills that help reduce bullying and violent behavior in schools. Also, students will establish mental awareness and learn assault avoidance strategies that could stop a crime before it even happens. Students need to learn self-defense. It could be the only thing that saves them from becoming one of the thousands of victims of violent crimes.