As teenagers become more independent and start going out at night, driving, and having generally having a life that is less removed from the home and parents than ever before, issues life safety and self defense will come up. Teenagers of both genders will inevitably face some tricky situations sooner or later, but self defense is an especially pressing issue for girls.
Why? I am a feminist, and am not coming from the perspective that women are weak and defenseless. The vast majority of threats can apply to boys just as much as to girls. Yet, girls are often raised to be more polite and careful about not hurting others’ feelings, and then there is the fact that they are statistically less strong than their male peers. These are some self-defense tips for teenage girls. They will be able to add some to their tool box right away, but specific training may be required for others.
Fear as a safety mechanism:
Have you ever been overcome by a sudden feeling that something in a situation is just not right? Gavin De Becker’s book Protecting the Gift is full of such stories. This security expert makes the point that intuition and fear often serve as a safety mechanism. Teach your children about the importance of listening to their fears. Does a particular individual “give them the creeps”? Does something in their mind make them feel unsafe in a certain situation (perhaps at the mall with their friends, or walking home alone at night)? De Becker’s message is clear: listening to that inner voice can be life-saving at times. I highly recommend this book for any parent, but also for teenagers themselves.
This is something that builds on the message about fear. Women in particular tend to want to be polite to someone, even if they feel that person could pose a threat. They quickly and often subconsciously tell themselves that should ignore the urge to leave the situation, and not to be rude. Tell your teenager it is perfectly acceptable to be rude in order to protect themselves. If that man who strikes up a conversation with your daughter in the parking lot frightens her, for instance, moving towards a location with more witnesses and not answering questions out of politeness is the best approach.
Stay in public places:
Predators of any kind often need to have privacy to carry out what they intend to do. Remaining in a public place with plenty of witnesses does not require a black belt in karate or any muscles – but it is one of the best preemptive self defense measures. Of course, nobody is able to stick around a place with other people all the time, and no mother wants her daughter to live in constant fear of danger. But coupled with other tools, this is a very valuable one.
There are plenty of self-defense classes for women around, but I would particularly recommend Krav Maga. Krav Maga is an Israeli defense discipline that stands out from others for its focus on practical use. Anyone can use the techniques Krav Maga teaches, regardless of physical strength. Anyone taking a self-defense class benefits from knowing their limitations and not being lulled into a false sense of safety, though – even the the toughest person might not be able to defend themselves with only their bare hands.
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