My Best Recommendations To Teach Your Teenage Girls Safety
I was recently a guest on theBOLOPodcast episode 6 “Firearms, Females and Fitness” hosted by Mike Bires and Rich Carrion about health safety and fitness. One of the questions they asked me was what would my recommendation for self-defense for a teenage girl? I couldn’t possibly answer that one question in the amount of time we had, and I cannot fully answer it here. However, I will give my best suggestions here for those of you interested.
Having been a teenage girl, I know first-hand how they think and feel and also what we hide.
The teen years are usually akward and painful for everyone, at least some of the time. It’s a time of changes, a lot of changes and teens need someone who will listen to them and support them, even if they are making stupid decisions.
Below I have listed some important things to consider when teaching your teens about safety. It is not only limited to the girls either, these safety tips apply to everyone.
- BE A PARENT! There are so many “part time” parents who feel they have to be their kid’s friend and be liked by them. Your job as a parent is to raise good people who become self-sufficient adults with a good moral compass. Not to enable them, coddle them or be their friend. Kids need guidance and coaching, correcting and punishment when they do wrong. A strong sense of right and wrong will go a long way in a person’s decision making.
- Reinforce your teen’s VALUE. Teach them to stand up for themselves, set personal boundaries and speak up when something isn’t right. From a very young age, I was taught to never let anyone put hands on me in an inappropriate way, either joking or not, no matter how much I may like them or love them. Establishing good boundaries up front will ward off a lot of unwanted attention and problems. Knowing your own worth and having a strong sense of self-respect is so important, especially during those strange years of adolescence.
- Be careful what you post online. It is so dangerous to post 800 selfies in various stage of dress. Teach your teens to only post in the past tense. This is so important especially when they are not home. Revealing their location, giving a play by play of every moment of their life is so appealing to predators and stalkers. It gives them everything they need to perpetrate a crime. You never really know who is on the other side of the screen or what their intentions are. Not everyone is safe, be sure your teens know that.
- Teach them to be safe in layers. What I mean by that is, not all attacks or crimes are committed by strangers, in fact they rarely are. Not all will be sudden either. Awareness is the first layer of safety, just knowing that a situation is potentially dangerous will help them make a better decision. Physical skills will come next then, weapons training when they are old enough to possess and use them for self-defense. Teach them what behavior, lures and words to pay attention to that will be clues to a person’s real intentions.
- Teach them to LISTEN to their instincts. Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by people the victim knows. Let that sink in for a moment. Think of all the people your teens know and hang out with. What if one of them decided to cross the line with your daughter because there were no clear boundaries? Would she realize she was in trouble before it was too late? It isn’t always easy to trust our instincts. We always seem to want to have someone else verify them for us. TRUST them! They are never wrong and they don’t play tricks on you. No matter how much you like, care or trust someone, the moment your instincts tell you they are dangerous, listen and respond by getting away from that person. Your heart and emotions will not keep you safe, only your instincts and actions will.
- Encourage them to report anything that happens to them. They may be embarrassed because they realized they didn’t take your advice. They may not want you to find out they were drunk or somewhere they weren’t supposed to be. Assure them frequently that you will not punish them for reporting a crime, that you will not stop loving them or judge them for making a poor decision. This will go a long way to trusting their parents. When a teen conceals a crime (such as sexual assault) it is usually because they feel ashamed or at fault. Be sure your teens know, under all circumstances, you love them and encourage them to report crimes.
- Teach them to communicate the word “NO”. A lot of people don’t realize that “NO” is a complete sentence. So we must teach our young men and women to not only say it, but to communicate it and convince a potential perpetrator that no, means no. If a young lady has said no to going to a party with a guy, then he turns on the charm to convince her to go, all she has taught him is that her word means nothing and he can charm or intimidate her out of just about anything. It could just be her phone number at first, but once that precedent is set, the guy will work on here relentlessly until she gives in to anything, or until he feels he needs to force his will on her. Give her a voice, encourage and teach her to say NO and mean it.
- Teach them from a young age that sexual assault is never alright. Under no circumstances is it remotely acceptable. If more people taught their teens to be leaders and have a backbone when it comes to peer pressure, there may not be as much predatory behavior especially when the victim is impaired. It is never right no matter how the media portrays it, no matter how much society accepts it as “boys will be boys” behavior. Sexual assault is a crime and it is devastating to its victims, period.
- Teach them that decisions have consequences. Even innocent ones. Driving while intoxicated, getting in the car with people you don’t know well, making false accusations out of spite, actions of revenge, underage drinking, drug use and a ton of other things. Every action has a consequence. Be sure to teach them how seriously those consequences could affect not just their lives, but those around them too.
- Teach them to physically be able to defend themselves. Not only with strikes and punches, but with control tactics for situations that do not require as much force. Teach them the difference between force and deadly force, when each is appropriate and how to escape bad situations. Teach them defenses against very specific attacks. Just knowing how to punch properly will not help you in all situations. Teach them how to create pain so they can escape and how to stop someone from pursuing them once they do escape. They don’t need years of classes they just need some simple and effective moves that will work on anyone, no matter how their size.
- Teach them to be confident. Confidence is a huge deterrent to predators. Think about it, a lion won’t choose the strongest, most alert gazelle in the pack. They prey on the weak, sick, the ones who are lagging behind, the slow ones and the ones distracted and not paying attention. Teach your teens to walk and speak with confidence even if they feel unsure inside. The posture and alertness of a confident person is noticeable especially by criminals. They want an easy victim, don’t be one.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. So where and how do you teach these things to your kid if you have no training yourself? I recommend you hire a professional. The lessons may be more well-received if they are reinforced by a person who is not the parent. Allow them to learn with a friend or sibling so they are not feeling singled out or alone. A professional safety coach or self-defense instructor should be able to teach your child in simple language they understand, ensure they are performing correctly and efficiently as well as teach them proved tactics. They will also not have a problem allowing parents to watch and listen to what is being taught to their child. Be sure your child is comfortable with the instructor for the most effective training.
I hope you have taken away at least a couple of important tips to get started teaching your kids to stay safe. Some books I recommend reading are “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker and “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout, ph.d.
You can always contact me with questions or for training in The DFW area. she-banghandguntraining.com