Self-Defense at Needham High School

May 2017 (Volume 67, Issue 3)

By Emma Patz, Entertainment Editor

Needham High School does an incredible job at preparing students for college in a multitude of ways, both academically and emotionally. However, one aspect of college preparation that the school falls short in, and an aspect that may, according to statistics, affect many, is sexual assault. Shockingly, 23.1% of undergraduate female students and 5.4% of undergraduate male students experience rape or sexual assault on their college campuses, and one of the most prevalent times for those crimes to occur is during the first two semesters of college, according to The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the United States. In fact, female college students are “twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed” (RAINN).

Needham High School senior Lily Auger is one of many female students from the class of 2017 who will be attending college in the fall. She recalls her sexual assault education thus far, stating, “They kind of just avoid the topic at Needham High School altogether,” further elaborating, “It’s a hard topic because they can’t be like, ‘Girls, you need to protect yourselves,’ because that’s sexist, but as a result of trying to avoid that they really just ignore the sexual assault aspect of it.”

Fortunately, Needham High School has implemented a self-defense unit into the gym curriculum of junior year. P.E. teacher Mr. Dungca describes this curriculum, explaining, “It [the self-defense unit] consists mainly of education on laws surrounding self-defense, and then for one day Officer Vinny comes in and demonstrates self-defense moves.” Mr. Dungca stresses an interesting point, explaining, “The fighting is not the most important part of the unit. It is more important to be proactive, and not put yourself in situations that will put you in harm’s way.”

However, this brief unit alone seems insufficient in preparing teens on how to protect themselves against the potential dangers of a college campus. Perhaps it would be beneficial to expand upon the actual martial art aspect of the curriculum. Mr. Dungca echoes this sentiment, admitting that he wishes for the unit to last more than the current five to eight class periods. Ashland High School has really embraced this issue. They have implemented an all-female self defense class in their school, which combines classroom instruction with lengthy training on self-defense techniques. Although there is currently only one class, they hope to make the course mandatory within the next few years. This approach could be a healthy compromise between proactive training and actual martial arts instruction.

So, if Needham High School prepares students for college academically, why shouldn’t they prepare students for potential dangers as well?

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