Street Proofing Teens

I have often been asked by concerned parents or grandparents, “What is the easiest thing I can teach my kids to keep them from being destroyed on the streets.” The answer is short and easy: teach them the one thing to never do and the two things to do.

Safety is not some super mystical ninja death touch, but ordinary daily planning:

NEVER get into a car with a drinking driver and

ALWAYS buckle your seat belt.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of teen fatalities, accounting for 44% of teen deaths in the U.S. The National Safety Council sees the issue as a national crisis.

Car Accidents Leading Cause Of Teen Death

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The leading cause of death among young people in the US is car accidents, according to a study presented over the weekend.

Motor vehicle accidents account for 30% of adolescent deaths, followed by homicide (20%), suicide (12%), and unintentional injury (other than car accidents) including falls and drowning (10%). Death from AIDS accounts for 2% of the mortality rate among 10 to 24 year olds.

I didn’t want to take for granted that Canadian stats were similar but a similar google of Canadian resources turned up no similar approach to statistics which I could use.

Therefore, depending on which stats you follow, helping your child survive car accidents with their friends and being psychologically healthy enough to avoid suicide will take care of over half of their risk of death.

They don’t just need to know how to fight; they need to know how to say, “No!” with conviction at the right time. To be able to resist peer pressure is a great survival skill for a young adult.

Oh, and the second thing that is a must do is for girls aged fourteen to twenty-four: learn the statistics about date rape and how it can be avoided.

Random shooting by mentally unstable students has less effect on the majority of young ladies attending university than does date rape.

College date rape statistics are horrifying. In 1985, Mary Koss, a researcher at the University of Arizona, conducted the largest study of date rape on college campuses. Koss surveyed 32 campuses for Ms. magazine, and estimated that one in six college women become victims of rape or attempted rape - that statistic has since increased to one in four. Koss found that most rapes occurred on campus, 84 percent of the women knew their assailants, but only 27 percent realized that their sexual assault fell within the legal definition of rape. Sixteen percent said they thought what happened to them was a crime, 11 percent did not feel a crime was committed and 46 percent believed they had been victims of "serious miscommunication" rather than rape.

One in 12 college men responding to the same survey admitted committing acts that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, but only 1 percent of those men saw their behaviour as criminal. Koss proved that sexual violence has now surpassed theft as the number one security concern at US universities.



Canadian stats are available here and are just as bad:
and include the following:

  • Four out of five female undergraduates surveyed at Canadian universities said that they had been victims of violence in a dating relationship. Of that number, 29% reported incidents of sexual assault.
  • A survey on date rape showed that 60% of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught.
  • The majority of date and acquaintance rape victims are young women aged 16 to 24.
  • Statistics show one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime.
  • Most women who are sexually assaulted know their attackers. In fact approximately 80% are assaulted by men known to them in some capacity.

and much more, with references.

A google of "avoid date rape" brought 425,000 results. While reducing victim vulnerability is certainly the easiest and most productive approach (just like never getting into a car with a drinking driver), the nature of the crime is such that some simple and effective self defence or fighting techniques, such as are found here, may prove useful.

Fighting Back and Stopping Rape: Toronto Rape Crisis Centre

70% of women who fight back during an assault avoid rape.

This statistic, which we used in an education campaign a few years ago, has its’ origins in a U.S. study by Pauline Bart and Patricia O’Brien in Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies (1985). This research has been supported by numerous studies. The most recent of these studies, by Sarah Ullman and Raymond Knight, ’The Efficacy of Women’s Resistance Strategies in Rape Situations’ (1993) found that women who fought back were more likely to avoid rape than women who did not fight back, regardless of the presence of a weapon. In general, the studies found that strategies such as crying, pleading or reasoning were ineffective. Some studies even indicate that these strategies can cause increased chance of injury. 

Many teachers of self defence use such statistics to fill their classes. This does not mean they teach quality self defence. Fight back is often presented as beat this sucker into submission and punish him severely instead of escape as soon as possible.  Marc MacYoung has some of the most extensive pages about rape avoidence anyone could wish for although they do not conform to the usual martial artist / self defence instructor’s agenda. Marc is a gifted individual with a unique point of view when discussing complicated topics.

There you have it: street proof your teens against drunken drivers and date rape and you will have taken care of most of the crime that will ever have a serious impact upon them.


Further Resources:

Freedom from Fear: Taking Back Control of Your Life and Dissolving Depression

cover of Freedom From Fear: by Peyton Quinn


Bodyguarding : A Complete Manual