With all the “crazy” going on, it’s pretty easy to get scared. According to endsexualviolencect.org, “one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.” While 25% of women and roughly 17% of men doesn’t seem like that much when presented with just percentages, it’s actually a lot. If one applies these statistics to the roughly 7 billion people on the planet, one could predict from those figures that 875,000,000 women and 595,000,000 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Furthermore, these figures don’t include all kinds of violence, sexual or otherwise, that occur in the world. A terrifying number of people will be affected by violence in their lives. And becuase of figures like these, it’s easy to see why people might want to learn how to protect themselves.
One of Pioneer’s new auto shop teachers Kenneth Lewis, also teaches a self-defense class through Rec and Ed. According to Lewis the class has been around for quite some time and since it’s start, “the whole point [of the class has been] to give people a safe place to go so that they can learn how to protect themselves; especially with all the crazy that’s going on,” said Lewis.
Many students are concerned about the rate of violence in our country and want to take action. Ayla Hoerman, a Pioneer Junior, is taking the self defense class that Lewis teaches. “I think it’s important to know how to protect yourself,” she said.
According to Hoerman, being able to protect oneself is important. “It’s important for everyone to know how to defend themselves in an emergency,” she said, “otherwise they risk a lot of different injuries, including death, in some instances.”
And, according to Hoerman, this can be extremely important for girls especially. “ I feel like it’s especially important as a girl because girls tend to be targeted a little more by stronger people,” she said.
And Hoerman’s not wrong. According to The United States Bureau of Justice, 551,590 women were victims of violent crime in 2009 and 101,050 men were vicitms of violent crime in that same year. This means that about five times as many women were affected by violent crime in 2009 than men just in the United States alone.
But that being said, everyone should know how to defend themselves. “It’s not only girls that get robbed or sexually assaulted,” she said, “everyone should take a self defense class even if they never end up in those situations.”
In addition to the benefit of being able to defend herself, Hoerman’s taking the class for the activity and the ability to outlet stress too. “I…thought that the class would be a nice way to add a little more active time in my week,” she said, “it was also a place where I was able to take my mind off of all of my stressors and focus my energy.”
According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association (AADA), 14% of people use exercise to cope with stress, which was about the same percentage of people who eat (14%), sleep(17%), or watch movies or TV(14%) to cope with stress. In this way, exercise does help people cope with stress.
Another reason one might take a class like this is for the enjoyment and making friends. Pioneer Junior, Annika Hockmann, said she’s taking the class for this reason. “I started taking the self defense class because I thought it would be fun,” she said. Although, this is not an AAPS class, it is a class that one can sign up for through Rec and Ed. The class is open to anyone, but it costs money to take.
Despite the serious material the class covers, it is a positive environment. According to the students, no matter why they started taking the class, they had a great time taking it. “I had a lot of fun! The people, both the instructors and other participants were great. We laughed and learned a lot. I believe it was definitely worth it,” said Hockmann.
The class isn’t just fun, but also effective in teaching defense, and increasing general awareness. “We’ve had numerous stories of people that have been able to protect themselves with the stuff that we’ve had in class,” Lewis said. He went on to give an example of a former self-defense student who found a stranger in the back of her car and called the police. In this example, the woman had found the man because she had walked around and checked the car like she had been taught to do in the self-defense class. What she had learned in the class might have saved her life, or saved her from serious injury, depending on the stranger’s intentions.
Thankfully, according to Lewis, most of the stories he hears aren’t as startling, but are similarly about stopping bad situations before they happen. “The majority of [the stories] are ‘hey I found a situation before it happened,’ and that’s the whole goal, is to stop it before it happens,” he said.
And the students taking the class are just generally more aware, which is extremely important to Lewis. “The biggest thing is be aware. And that’s the biggest thing to today that I feel that were lacking, especially today as kids start to get older because, even here at the school, I see so many students walking around with both headphones in their ear, even in class,” he said. “So my biggest thing is don’t cut off any of your senses.”
Despite the many reasons that students like Hockmann and Hoerman might chose to take a self defense class, they eventually learned to defend themselves and have fun doing it. And because they can defend against the “crazy”, it might not seem so “crazy” anymore.