Strong! Confident! Safe!
Spectrum’s Jack Perkins records at a self defence course for 11 to 13 year-old girls at Wellington’s Holy Cross school. The girls are not interviewed but their responses reflect the vital rapport that instructors build with them. Since the inception of the Girls’ Self Defence Project in 1996, over 100,000 girls have attended courses throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. http://www.wsdn.org.nz/
From as young as 7, they are taught strategies and techniques which will keep them safe in the face of threat. Specialists teach skills designed to ward off physical attack. The girls chant ‘Nose! Throat! Guts! Nuts! But it’s not just about learning how to throw kicks and punches to vulnerable areas of the body, girls are also taught how to recognize sexual and family violence and are equipped with practical strategies allowing them to escape and seek help.
Many terms occur time and again during the day and a half course:- ‘Prevent, Intervene, De-escalate, Get to Safety, Disclose, Seek Support.' As the course advances, the all-important confidence of the girls increases. Course organizers closely monitor the girls’ attitudes to what they are taught and find a positive response of around 90%.
Course organisers have collected personal testimonies from around the country about how girls were able to use knowledge gained on the courses to help them in threatening situations. In this Spectrum, you'll hear their words but actors provide the voices to ensure that the girls' anonymity is safeguarded.
‘These 4 men tried to get me into their car, they said they’d take me to Cobb & Co for a feed. I yelled NO and ran up a driveway and asked for help at this house. Later, I gave their descriptions to the police. I felt so proud of what I’d done and all my friends thought I was cool….’