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Female HS students get lesson in self defense

March 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some local teens got a unique lesson at school Friday. Girls at San Gabriel High School were trained in how to protect themselves against an attacker and how to be more aware and assertive.The self-defense training session was conducted by an organization called Peace Over Violence. Organizers said the skills could prevent girls from becoming victims of a violent attack.

"We teach basic techniques on hitting the vulnerable parts of the attacker and disabling an attacker and then getting away to a safe place," said instructor Yvette Lozano.

About 500 students in 9th through 12th grades took part in the training sessions. School officials want to make sure they have ways of protecting themselves, especially when they are traveling to and from school.

"People do approach our kids, they say things. There is an occasional person who wants somebody to get in the car with them. Thankfully we haven't had some of the more serious things happen. We want to keep it that way and make sure the kids are safe," said Principal Jim Schofield.

In addition to the physical skills the kids are also learning how to use their voices to scare off potential attackers. Teachers say it's important for kids to feel empowered.

"Self-esteem is so important for kids and this is something that gives them that self esteem. It shows them that they can actually stand up for themselves," said Patricia Hill, who teaches at the school.

"When you're sitting on that mat, you feel like you're in the moment. It feels real," said 9th grade student Natalie Serrato "It's taught me a lot, you know, I have more confidence when I walk in the street and more confidence when I'm walking home. It's a great experience."

Self-defense training is just one part of the program that also focuses on issues like bullying and handling unhealthy relationships.