Balancing classes, community service and extracurricular activities causes stress in the life of the average student, but the possibility of targeted abuse and threats create more than a stressful environment. Specifically, college campuses have the same societal issues seen in most cities and urban areas of the United States, which includes violent acts such as robbery and harassment. In response to these offenses, high schools should help students prepare for college life and potentially dangerous situations with self-defense seminars.
In an examination of events from 1900 to 2008, 198 of the 272 incidents of targeted violence in institutions of higher education involved violence directed at specific individuals. Reports also note that of youth ages 12 to 18, 52.4 per 1,000 students were victimized at school with 28.8 per the 1,000 experiencing some form of violent victimization and 23.6 per 1,000 students experiencing theft.
The Office of Postsecondary Education division of the U.S. Department of Education states that the Department of Education is committed to providing a safe school environment for students and provide a handbook for campus safety and security reporting, but rules and regulations can not prevent crime. These resources and guidelines, while useful, account for how to deal with the action after it happened instead of providing students with the skills to protect and defend themselves.
High schools and colleges should provide self-defense classes to their students in order to help reduce these tragic incidents and the effects on the victims, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can lead to anxiety, depression and emotional numbing. American educational philosopher John Dewey argued that “the primary purpose of education and schooling is not so much to prepare students to live a useful life, but to teach them how to live pragmatically and immediately in their current environment.” In 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recorded that there were more than 1.2 million violent crimes reported nationwide, 65 percent of which consisted of aggravated assault and 25.6 percent consisted of robbery. The current environment of the United States consistently involves crime that students are unable to handle even on the small scale of what occurs on campus. The education system works to better oneself through education, but knowledge of self-defense against violent threats is just as valuable as academic studies.
The club “Girl Up” took initiative and hosted a self-defense class March 6 after school in the gym to encourage students and spread awareness on how to defend yourself and identify dangerous situations. The session provided information on how to escape specific grasps, properly position yourself when defending and notice suspicious people and/or situations.
“Everyone should know some form of self-defense,” said senior Simran Dulay, the vice president of Girl Up. “Everyone at some point might be in a situation where there can be danger and it’s really important that people know how to defend themselves. Whether it’s a man or a woman, people should be able to get out of bad situations.”
An accessible self-defense course, whether implemented in the curriculum or offered as an optional class, will increase awareness and provide a safe environment for students to practice these skills if they so choose. Self-defense seminars conducted in singular or multiple brief sessions allow students to determine the value of these skills. The school could organize an optional class and ask students to pay a fee or fundraise to cover the cost. Most self-defense-oriented organizations offer on-campus classes. Volunteers with knowledge of self- defense techniques and safety skills could also provide instructions.
As the crime rate continues to rise, schools should emphasize the preventative nature of self-defense classes to ensure the safety of their students and prepare them for whatever challenges they may face.