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Empire Editorial: Empowering young girls through self defense

Posted: June 15, 2014 - 12:11am

When men don’t ‘Choose Respect,’ women must choose self defense.

A local parent and mixed martial arts instructor decided to pair up and educate young girls on the basics of self defense in case they’re ever confronted by an aggressor. According to crime statistics, the chances of that happening is overwhelmingly high and would wreck any Alaska parent’s nerves.

In Alaska, 37 percent of woman are victims of sexual assault — three times the national average, according to 2012 FBI crime data. Alaska’s children aren’t much safer; they’re six times more likely be molested than their Lower 48 counterparts. Just because women and children are often smaller and weaker than their male aggressors, it doesn’t mean they have to be helpless. That’s the message parent Loretta Shilts and MMA instructor Harmony Morford want to share with Juneau’s parents and their teen daughters.

Morford is hosting a free self defense class for teen girls ages 13-19 on June 23 at Complete Warrior MMA Academy, located at 10001 Bentwood Place off Industrial Boulevard. The class will go over self defense as well as how young girls can establish personal boundaries with would-be attackers. According to Morford, 78 percent of sexual assaults are caused by someone the victim knew prior to the attack.

The self defense class for young women is more than a good idea — it’s a great idea. The course should help empower a demographic that often feels powerless while a sexual assault is happening.

Shilts went to Morford because of a situation involving her daughter. She and her family followed precautions like confirming a password when approached by people they didn’t know, and how to react to other “stranger danger” situations. Shilts did everything she knew to prepare her family. Still, it wasn’t enough.

“Sometimes, (sexual assault) happens in situations that you can never prepare your children for, and the best that you can do is take them somewhere where they can learn to defend themselves,” Shilts told the Empire.

If you’re the parent of a teen girl, make sure they attend this course. Encourage friends to do the same with their daughters. Staying alert and avoiding bad situations isn’t always enough. There’s bad men out there, and they prey on good people. Women have the right to protect themselves at all costs, but first they need the tools to do so. Morford’s class will provide just that.

• Empire editorials are written by the Juneau Empire’s editorial board. Members include Publisher Rustan Burton,; Director of Audience Abby Lowell,; Managing Editor Charles L. Westmoreland,; and Asst. Editor James Brooks,

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Frank Heart
Frank Heart 06/16/14 - 09:38 am
People set boundaries in

People set boundaries in order to protect themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Oddly, many parents actually encourage their children to "trespass" on other peoples boundaries. Social awareness is self-defense; respecting the boundaries of others is self-defense.

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