Around 80 female students at Jena High School (JHS) are now better prepared should the unthinkable ever occur.
Deputy Jenny Parker of the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office, has been an instructor in self-defense for many years and last week she held classes at JHS with students in the school’s physical education classes.
Each year Parker conducts the abbreviated self-defense course as part of her and the sheriff’s office commitment to protect females from harm.
“Every teenage woman should be educated and learn skills to avoid an attack and defend herself when her life is threatened,” Parker said. “Three years ago, JHS PE teacher Sarah Roark saw this need within her female students and reached out to me and asked if we could do some type of course. This is the third year of doing the Self-Defense for Woman Class during Roark’s PE classes at the school.”
Parker also teaches the self-defense classes for adult women and normally, the program takes up to 12 hours to cover awareness, avoidance, association and the time needed to learn the physical moves so they are fluent in both mind and muscle memory. She has been teaching self-defense for over 20 years and has been a certified instructor with a nationally known program.
“But we don’t have 12 hours with the PE classes, so we shortened the course to cover the basics,” Parker said. “90% of self-defense is education. So, the first day I spoke to them about ways to be more aware of their surroundings and how to reduce becoming a victim.”
The second day was learning ways to defend themselves and escape.
“The goal is to escape,” she said. “The skills that we teach including using their voice to properly communicate what they want, different punching and kicking styles, along with the importance of preparing their minds in case of an attack.”
The students learned basic knowledge concerning how to be safer and more aware when dating, shopping, traveling and at home. They also learned basic, personal defense techniques, such as how to get out of the grasp of someone and where to strike an attacker to be most effective.
“Realizing that their own voice, attitude and mindset can aide in avoidance and defense along with adding moves like strikes and kicks while learning vulnerable areas to target can be empowering to a woman,” she said. “Even though this is a shorter program taught in two days, something is better than nothing when it comes to women being empowered and equipped with the knowledge to defend themselves.”
Thedeputythanked the LaSalle Parish School System for allowing her to teach the course at JHS and to Sarah Roark, who also served as an assistant during the course.
“We pray these young ladies never have to use the skills they have been taught, however, should they ever become a victim, we pray the things they learned will be beneficial in saving their lives,” she concluded. “All of their lives are precious.”