A 10-year-old’s horrifying encounter with two men while walking home in southwest Sydney has highlighted the importance of self-defence classes for children.
The girl told police that two Caucasian men with distinctive tattoos emerged from a white van and struck up a conversation before grabbing her.
She then bit and kicked her attackers and managed to escape, running away and making her way home.
According to reports by the Sydney Morning Herald, the van followed the girl and waited in front of her house for some time before eventually driving off.
Police are encouraging parents to discuss safety around strangers with their children.
“If someone tries to grab you, yell out, ‘Go away, I don’t know you’,” police told the ABC. “This lets other people know you have been approached by someone you don’t know.”
“Always walk straight home or to the place you are walking to. Walk near busier roads and streets, or use paths where there are lots of other people.”
Kids’ Krav Maga instructor Leann Webb says that self-defence can help alert children about danger and ultimately keep them safe.
“This is the most important aspect of self-defence for kids,” Webb says. “If they are aware of themselves and aware of things that could mean danger, they have the best chance of staying safe.”
“Kids benefit from improved coordination, strength, agility, balance, flexibility, cardio, speed, and reactive and bursting power. And this physical development makes a life-long difference: children who are physically capable and confident grow into adults who are physically capable and confident.”
Child Safety Australia, a Brisbane-based not-for-profit which runs safety programs for children throughout Australian schools, says these self-defence and safety classes can also help reduce the risk of abuse.
“It is estimated as many as one in three boys and girls will experience some form of sexual abuse before they leave school. Most children are abused by people they know and trust, and about one-third of abuse is perpetrated by other children or young people.”
Child Safety Australia uses strategies that can be applied to a variety of situations, but their focus is on ensuring young people and children remain safe around other people.
According to recent Morgan Roy research, it was found that only 8.8 per cent of children in Australia take part in martial arts or self-defence.
Sally Warren from Brisbane has two boys and says it was important to have them both enrolled into defence classes before they began school.
“Our eldest son has been doing self-defence jujitsu at Martial Arts Qld for nearly five years, and he is learning new skills all the time,” she says.
“It started as a way to help build their confidence, but as they’ve grown older, we also see it helping them learn about how to be safe, whether in relation to strangers or someone they know,” Warren says.
Jacqueline, a mother of three, says karate has played a big part in inspiring confidence, self awareness, and personal safety with her children.
“Karate not only teaches self-defence, but the principles of karate also encourage discipline, respect, focus, confidence, and never giving up — getting a black belt takes a lot of hard work.
“These are all important life skills and particularly when kids have to deal with bullies or ‘baddies’.”
For a list of place to find self-defence classes for kids, visit the Martial Arts Australia website.