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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Jaycee Dugard Story: A Reminder About Street Safety for Kids

As you probably already know, when Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old, she was kidnapped while walking to school. Her kidnappers held her captive for 18 years until she was finally discovered and rescued. Now more than ever, the issue of women's self-defense/kids' self-defense should be explored in classrooms and camps, but as usual most are silent on the issue.

It's impossible to discuss Dugard's kidnapping without mentioning the issue of street safety for kids and street safety for women. What is street safety and how does it fit into the self-defense discussion? Street safety refers to the skills individuals need to avoid putting themselves into dangerous situations, as well as skills they can use to escape these situations without needing to use physical self-defense skills.

Here at California Academy of Martial Arts we frequently discuss street safety with our students. Some common misconceptions are described after the jump:

One of our students, a 10-year old girl, was asked what she should do if someone is following her on the street. She indicated that she would pretend she does not see or hear the person and walk faster, never looking at them. This is a common reaction among women of all ages, and a very non-confrontational one, but generally speaking, it is probably better for the followed to look at and acknowledge their follower. First of all, they will be able to describe them to police if they are attacked or harassed. Second of all, the fear of being recognized or identified may deter the follower from attacking their victim. Most importantly, showing confidence by looking at your follower will show them that you will not go easily if you are attacked.

Another student, a 9 year-old, said that if a man was following her in a store, she would run into the women's bathroom and lock herself in a stall. Obviously, alone in a bathroom is the last place any woman should want to be, especially if she is being stalked. We explained to the girl that it is better to run back to her parents, or if she cannot find them, toward a checkout stand to notify an employee.

Have any self-defense or street safety questions? Leave it in the comments and we'll address it in our next blog post!

-Kung Fu Los Angeles staff