Kids turn 'rad' in WLPD program

By SOPHIA VORAVONG
svoravong@journalandcourier.com

In the last few weeks, a group of children in Tippecanoe County learned how to hit, kick and run away from strangers who try to grab them.

The children, ages 3 to 7, displayed the new skills for their parents Thursday afternoon -- acting out the moves on "bad guy" Janet Shepherd, an officer with the West Lafayette Police Department.

"Stay back, you're not my mom!" 3-year-old Abby Chin screamed, running away to call 911.

Abby was one of 16 youngsters to participate in the West Lafayette Police Department's inaugural radKIDS program, designed to teach little ones how to resist aggression defensively. They graduated on Thursday.

It's a spin-off of the agency's Rape Aggression Defensive, or RAD, course that teaches women self-defense tactics and techniques, Chief Jason Dombkowski said.

The first radKIDS program was opened to children of law enforcement officers and firefighters in the community as a way for West Lafayette police to test its effectiveness.

Children also learned more about vehicle safety, bicycle safety, good touch-bad touch and other tips.

Detective Cindy Marion, who taught the six-session, three-week program with Shepherd, said it was impressive to see how quickly the children progressed. Another free course, this one open to the public for kids ages 8 to 12, is expected to begin in April.

"It's amazing to see how they became so powerful so fast," Marion said. "They came so far in such a short time."

Jody Chin, whose husband, Eric, is a lieutenant with the Purdue University Police Department, enrolled Abby and her 6-year-old brother in the course so they could learn how to protect themselves.

She recommends radKIDS to other parents.

"I worry about people who might hurt them, and I want them to be prepared," Chin said. "It taught them to be louder, because they have a tendency to clam up. It taught them not to be afraid to do what they need to do, especially to another adult."


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