People often come to us with fears from the news - and that is understandable. Every time we see a rapist, a car jacking, a break-in, it can bring up fears that we have about our own personal safety. But when you look at the statistics, 80% of all attacks will be from a person you know or are acquainted with. With that in mind, we need to be telling our teenagers that they need to be watching for more than just the stranger on the street, but also the cute boy they've been texting with.
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. One in three teens will experience violence in their dating life, while over 40% of women in college report violence or abusive dating behaviors.
We at Valley Self-Defense have worked with those who have left and are seeking to leave abusive situations. We believe that self-defense can help people regain confidence lost during these situations. But the more we can do to empower our young students to feel confident in themselves and their right to say "no," the fewer women will have to find us in the future.
It starts early
Encourage your child's right to say no from a young age. I can understand that it might be hard to tell Grandma that your child gets to say when they wish to be hugged, but allowing a child to decide when and how they will be touched is key in my mind. Whenever I say hello or goodbye to a child and feel that we have enough of a connection, I make sure to ask before I come in for a hug. If a child says no, I respect their boundary. Just because I'm the adult, that doesn't give me the right to force a hug on a child. Allowing a child to enforce a boundary when they're young isn't making them rude - it's making sure they know that they are allowed to say no.
Talk about it
It's an uncomfortable topic and it can be hard to have that conversation. There are resources out there to help you talk to your loved ones. Visit websites like Love is Respect and Youth.Gov to get everything you might need to talk to your teen.
Help your child or friend set healthy boundaries
When we talk about Krav Maga, we talk about the timeline and the first step is avoid - if you can avoid a situation, you should. Obviously, you can't avoid every situation. But the more you can decide in advance, "I will not take that drink," "I will not let my friends pressure me," and stick with those boundaries, the better off you will be.
As a child, we were so often told, "don't get in the car with someone else," "don't take candy from strangers." Helping your teen make those decisions in advance and encouraging them when they do stick to those boundaries can make a huge difference.
Of course we're going to say self-defense
Valley Self-Defense teaches children and teens about boundaries, consent, as well as how to physically defend themselves against bullies and strangers, giving them confidence to defend their boundaries if need be. We also encourage parents to support their children when they use self-defense in school or on the playground. The more you can support your child, show them what a healthy relationship and what healthy boundaries are, the less likely we will see them when they're older.
If you are someone you know is in a violent relationship and need help, text LOVEIS to 22522 or call 1.866.331.9474.
If you've experienced trauma before stepping on the mat, you aren't alone. I discuss the experiences that brought me to Krav Maga and the reason I not only stayed, but became an instructor and school owner.
Krav Maga is about more than just kicking butt - the best way to win a fight is to avoid one. But often times women feel like we can't defend ourselves until we're in danger. When are we allowed to defend our boundaries?
If we say that training is good for our mental health, we can't divorce our feelings from it. It's one of the reasons that I cry on the mat.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.