Kicking schools into action: the need for self-defense


Sravanthi Vedula

Student Varun Vedula performs movements of self-defense.

Azariah Courtney, Editor in Chief

For a speech in a public speaking course offered at Pleasant Valley, students had to present a persuasive message to the audience. Senior Adrea Arthofer felt this was the perfect way to present her idea: a self-defense course implemented at the high school.

Arthofer set her idea upon the massive amount of sexual violence and assault on women occurring in our world.  Her main purpose, as she presented her idea, was to set up a self-defense class that would replace weightlifting or the average gym class for a semester.

Designed as a preventative measure for those who may encounter dangerous situations, the course would go over basic tactics of self-defense, how to comprehend when one is in a dangerous situation, and how they can protect themselves.

While Arthofer feels strongly that women should not be put in these situations by men in the first place, she believes women need to be educated on what is happening in the world in terms of sexual violence. Sex crimes are on the rise; a reported 22% more of rapes this year than others.

“I think that we need to empower women and young girls again so females don’t have to live in fear, and so they are able to take control of their bodies again,” said Arthofer. “Self-defense teaches more than just how to fight back…it teaches people to be more confident and independent.”

Self-defense teaches more than just how to fight back…it teaches people to be more confident and independent.”

— Adrea Arthofer

In the present world, it is unsafe and ignorant to ignore the trends of self-defense. Arthofer’s idea of bringing this class to Pleasant Valley High School is a preventative measure for girls who may encounter dangerous situations.

Males should always be encouraged to feel safe in their environments as well; however, many females in this day and age feel unsafe doing simple tasks such as walking to their car at night or even going on a jog, in broad daylight, by themselves.

A gym teacher named Charles Schweizer began a self-defense course at Hicksville High School in New York. What had started as a mini-course in 2001 had grown to a full semester class with ten different sections, ensuring the 290 juniors and seniors at this school to enroll.

“There is certainly an impact with the students…” said Schweizer. “In addition, their confidence grows. They also become more willing to go beyond their normal comfort levels and overcome their fears.”

Having a self-defense course implemented at schools is beneficial because it provides all of these students with the same tools; learning core skills like language and mathematics is important but so are skills for the real, immediate world.

Many self-defense courses at third-party organizations are expensive, and consequently, some are unable to attend. No person should fall behind in these important life skills because they cannot afford it. Public school systems are designed so everyone can receive an education; there is no reason why a self-defense class should not be designed in part of an educational system.

Every person, regardless of gender of socioeconomic status, should have the right to learn self-defense tactics and feel confident in daily lives. Men and women can both be put in harmful situations but there is a much larger push from society on women.

Because of the massive violence in the world, women are told a myriad of things: to make sure they don’t run alone, to only walk in visible areas, to always be on their toes in public venues in case someone is following them.

The plan set in place by Arthofer was to place an amount of significance on her view of how women stand now, in a society ridden with sexual violence, and where she hopes them to stand.

Arthofer gave her classmates a petition to sign in hopes of implementing this program at the high school. While the things that are occurring in the world like sexual assault and violence are wrong and need to be addressed, women need to be empowered on what they can individually control.

This pressing issue is one that Pleasant Valley –and other schools around the nation– need to change.

“I think it’s important because as of now, it’s as if sexual assault is being normalized and we are taught to believe there isn’t anything we can do,” said Arthofer. “Yet, we should stand up against it and not only prove to women how strong they are, but teach men they can’t just take what they want from us.”