Teens and Self-Defense...
seen it in movies: A girl walks through an isolated parking garage. Suddenly, an
evil-looking guy jumps out from behind an SUV. Girl jabs bad guy in the eyes
with her keys — or maybe she kicks him in a certain sensitive place. Either
way, while he's squirming, she leaps into her car and speeds to safety.
the movies. Here's the real-life action replay: When the girl goes to jab or
kick the guy, he knows what's coming and grabs her arm (or leg), pulling her off
balance. Enraged by her attempt to fight back, he flips her onto the ground. Now
she's in a bad place to defend herself — and she can't run away.
people think of self-defense as a karate kick to the groin or jab in the eyes of
an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid
fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using
your smarts — not your fists.
(guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back "in
self-defense" actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is
already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may
become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat
of attack is to try to get away. This way, you're least likely to be injured.
way to avoid a potential attack before it happens is to trust your instincts.
Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of
trouble. For example, if you're running alone on the school track and you
suddenly feel like you're being watched, that could be your intuition telling
you something. Your common sense would then tell you that it's a good idea to
get back to where there are more people around.
a Bad Situation
aren't always strangers who jump out of dark alleys. Sadly, teens can be
attacked by people they know. That's where another important self-defense skill
comes into play. This skill is something self-defense experts and negotiators
a situation means speaking or acting in a way that can prevent things from
getting worse. The classic example of de-escalation is giving a robber your
money rather than trying to fight or run. But de-escalation can work in other
ways, too. For example, if someone harasses you when there's no one else around,
you can de-escalate things by agreeing with him or her. You don't have to
actually believe the taunts, of course, you're just using words to get
you out of a tight spot. Then you can redirect the bully's focus ("Oops, I
just heard the bell for third period"), and calmly walk away from the
as simple as not losing your temper can de-escalate a situation. Learn how to
manage your own anger effectively so that you can talk or walk away without
using your fists or weapons.
de-escalation won't always work, it can only help matters if you remain calm and
don't give the would-be attacker any extra ammunition. Whether it's a stranger
or someone you thought you could trust, saying and doing things that don't
threaten your attacker can give you some control.
part of self-defense is doing things that can help you stay safe. Here are some
tips from the National Crime Prevention Council and other experts:
Understand your surroundings. Walk or hang out in areas that are
open, well lit, and well traveled. Become familiar with the buildings, parking
lots, parks, and other places you walk. Pay particular attention to places where
someone could hide — such as stairways and bushes.
Avoid shortcuts that take you through isolated areas.
If you're going out at night, travel in a group.
Make sure your friends and parents know your daily schedule
(classes, sports practice, club meetings, etc.). If you go on a date or with
friends for an after-game snack, let someone know where you're going and when
you expect to return.
Check out hangouts. Do they look safe? Are you comfortable being
there? Ask yourself if the people around you seem to share your views on fun
activities — if you think they're being reckless, move on.
Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence. Look like
you know where you're going and act alert.
When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver and stay
awake. Attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.
Carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure it's programmed with
your parents' phone number.
Be willing to report crimes in your neighborhood and school to the
a Self-Defense Class
best way — in fact the only way — to prepare yourself to fight off an
attacker is to take a self-defense class. We'd love to give you all the right
moves in an article, but some things you just have to learn in person.
good self-defense class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide what
you should do. Self-defense classes can also teach special techniques for
breaking an attacker's grasp and other things you can do to get away. For
example, attackers usually anticipate how their victim might react — that kick
to the groin or jab to the eyes, for instance. A good self-defense class can
teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard.
of the best things people take away from self-defense classes is
self-confidence. The last thing you want to be thinking about during an attack
is, "Can I really pull this self-defense tactic off?" It's much easier
to take action in an emergency if you've already had a few dry runs.
self-defense class should give you a chance to practice your moves. If you take
a class with a friend, you can continue practicing on each other to keep the
moves fresh in your mind long after the class is over.