My main goal in sharing my Little Gal’s experiences hunting, fishing and shooting is to empower other women…including young women. Part of raising our youngsters to become independent, self-sufficient women is helping them learn how to physically take care of themselves. I’ve been thinking of some ways to empower our daughters, as they grow up to take on the world.
Between the ages of 16 and 24, our daughters begin to date, take employment and drive without us. It also means they’re at the most vulnerable time of their lives for rape and other attacks. We’ll no longer be right there to protect them, so they need to know how to do it themselves.
For example, a friend’s 17-year-old daughter works nights at a fast food restaurant. She and a coworker were closing when they noticed a suspicious man outside. They called the police and waited, locked inside the building. I give kudos to her for being aware of her surroundings. It’s lucky she hadn’t been caught out in the dark parking lot by the strange man.
I say it’s lucky because after the pair phoned the police they waited 45 minutes for a response. After that long period of time, a patrol car finally appeared in the parking lot. What if she, or her coworker, had been outside calling for help during an attack? Can you think of the horrific things that might have happened?
I thought of a sign I’ve seen in stores a number of times: “The average response time for a 911 call is 23 minutes. Response time for a 9mm is 1,350 feet per second.” I used to agree with the slogan, but apparently I hadn’t thought it through. These young people aren’t old enough to legally carry a firearm. What can they do?
I sat in the high school gym watching LG and her teammates play basketball. At halftime I scanned the crowd, noticing that many of her friends were oblivious to their surroundings. They had their heads in their phones and obviously had no clue as to what was going on around them. Our daughters need to be aware, but who can teach them?
Be a mentor.
My cousin is a victims advocate at a battered women’s shelter. She said teens tend to learn a lot from other teens. Teach your little gal to be a mentor to her friends.
LG and I have had many conversations about safety and awareness. We live in a small town where everybody knows everybody, and there is a false sense of safety for many residents. According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, young women are most likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know: a friend, a relative, an employer, a date or someone they’ve recently met. Teach your young lady about safety and remind her to teach her friends.
Know what tools you can use to protect yourself.
Since teenagers cannot legally carry concealed firearms I asked Officer McCoy, a campus police officer at our local college, “What can they do or carry to use in self-defense?” He indicated that weapons are not allowed on campus—not just firearms, but knives, batons, clubs and other items can be deemed weapons. There are many shades of gray, however. A baseball bat isn’t a weapon, but it could be considered one if someone used it to attack another person. On the flip side, it would be ideal for self-defense.
Officer McCoy reminded me to check each college’s rules, because some colleges do allow firearms on campus.
Learn self-defense basics.
I was beginning to further understand what was not allowed, but I still needed more information. I approached our local chief of police with my questions.
Chief Rockensock recommended teens get educated in self-defense basics. He said they need to be aware of people and surroundings. They also need to have a plan for escape. Awareness is key in personal safety.
The chief gave caution to using other tools for self-defense. Pepper sprays and other items can do more harm than good if the holder is not properly trained in using them, he said.
Take self-defense classes.
Anyone can contact their local police departments to find information on training programs. Chief Rockensock cautioned me to choose someone with good credentials. He suggested martial arts classes as a good fit for our small community If you do some research, you may find some classes in your area.
Likewise, I found organizations offering classes specifically for teens. Both organizations are specifically designed to combat violence and empower young women by teaching safety and self-defense techniques. Groups can book classes from Girls Fight Back. Another organization, Just Yell Fire, has instructors throughout the U.S. and Canada—including one just an hour away from us. We’ve booked an independent class. Stay tuned: We’ll share our experiences in these programs with you soon.