LHS Introduces New Self-Defense Class


Nicholas Taub

Ms. Bethany Martin, who teaches freshman PE and drivers education, took a RAD class on her own and earned certification seven years ago at Oak Park River Forest High School. Here she demonstrates to students how to block an attack against them.

RAD — which stands for Rape, Aggression, and Defense — is a nationally recognized program all about teaching students basic self-defense to create a safer future for everyone. This program is now taught at LHS in all freshman PE.

The course touches on the social and emotional need to defend yourself and avoid dangerous situations, such as assault or abduction. It is currently taught to over 1,000 schools and universities across the nation.

LHS began teaching RAD last year as Dr. Koulentes brought the idea over from Highland Park. He believed it to be a valuable skill for the students to have and learn. With the highlighted importance of freshmen learning basic self-defense skills, faculty went to observe local schools that currently implemented the program. A program like this can really benefit students in gaining a greater understanding of sexual assault and strategies to prevent dangerous situations. Thus, LHS staff ultimately decided to implement it into our own LHS school system. 

Currently, all physical education teachers are in the process of completing or have completed, the course to teach it. 

At LHS, there are two parts to RAD. One is cognitive classroom-based, which deals with discussions about gender-specific topics, and physical hands-on participation, which is about teaching students how to defend themselves with basic self-defense skills.

Some of the main highlights of this program can be summed up into five key points according to Joyce Amann, a physical wellness teacher at LHS: (1) Understand the physical, mental and emotional strategies to defend oneself, (2) learn to become more safety conscious in your environment, (3) learn basic self-defense skill tactics, and the circumstances and consequences of deciding to fight back, (4) define sexual harassment/assault and understanding ways to report it, gaining the knowledge to develop strategies to prevent or stop it and (5) understand types of abuse, the cycle of abuse and how to get help or end the abuse

Freshman students practice the techniques such as blocking, part of the physical portion of the nationally recognized self defense and awareness curriculum, RAD (Rape, Agression, Defense).
(Nicholas Taub)

By showing the importance of these five key points, students can better prepare themselves if they ever come into a situation where they need to defend themselves.

Anybody can sign up for a certification. Although the class does not allow for students to gain their certification at school, students can go to a variety of institutions that offer the course and gain their own.

Ms. Martin, a freshman PE teacher, got her certification at Oak Park River Forest seven years ago. “It took two weekends of very intense, eight-to-four, training,” she explained “There you work on and learn the pieces of the cognitive parts of the defense, and then practice the physical pieces of it.” 

Students need to take this course due to its emphasis on promoting awareness, recognition, reduction, and avoidance of aggressive behavior and actions directed toward us and others.

Teaching freshman students about RAD benefits future generations and allows schools to address the student’s physical and social-emotional needs through classroom presentations related to a specific gender, social issues, and the theory/practice for self-defense.