Elementary students learn defense against predators
Garthia Elena Halbert
Across the country, predators are preying on the world's most precious resource - children.
Left defenseless and intimidated, children are bullied, abused, abducted and neglected.
But instructors of Rape Aggression Defense System (R.A.D.) for kids are teaching children at Mitchell Memorial Elementary School in Columbus they're not defenseless and don't have to be intimidated.
“We teach them safety at school and we think it's important they know safety outside of school. We want to keep them safe in all places,” said Karen Overstreet, school principal.
Throughout the year, teachers focus on fire safety, pedestrian and biking safety as well as safety at school. R.A.D. Kids will extend those safety measures with precautions they can use to defend themselves.
“R.A.D. Kids is going to teach you how to stay safe at home and on the streets,” Overstreet told students at their kick-off program Friday afternoon.
When R.A.D. Kids training begins Tuesday, Mitchell will be the first school in the state to implement the program as part of school day activities. With permission from the children's parents, the students will have R.A.D. training once a week, headed up by a mother-daughter duo from the Mississippi University for Women Police Department.
“There are four basic issues that kids face now, and that's abduction, bullying, child abuse and neglect and sexual assault,” said Sara Beth Honsinger, R.A.D. Kids instructor and an MUW police officer.
“The good news is, with all the bad things that could happen, there are things we can do about it,” said Sherry Honsinger, Sara Beth's mother and coordinator of support services for the MUW Police Department. Sherry is also a R.A.D. Kids instructor.
Three premises guide the program's instruction: No. 1, “Nobody has the right to hurt me;” No. 2, “I don't have the right to hurt anybody else unless they try to hurt me and then I can stop them,” and No. 3, “It's not my fault if someone tries to hurt me, so I can tell.”
Through the program, “hundreds of children have been able to speak up and get the help they need ...” said Sherry, who noted there is no better investment than child safety.
“As we stand here today, 22 percent of people are children, and we can be assured they make up 100 percent of our future,” she concluded.