Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Free classes to teach personal safety

Bonita Middle School students get lesson in safety

Special to The Banner
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

If you couldn’t attend the PTC meeting last Thursday night at Bonita Middle School, you missed out on information that could one day save your child’s life.

Karen Leskin, PTC president, introduced the presentation, “Kids ’N Power.”

It was co-presented by Chad Wilbur, owner and 5th degree black belt instructor of ATA Black Belt Academy, and Dennis Hemberger, retired NYC police officer who served with the undercover pedophile squad.

Wilbur opened with an overview of self-defense tips and techniques. To a rapt audience of middle school students, Wilbur admonished that at the academy, “We teach the right time to use techniques of martial arts — we are not here to teach you how to punch and kick — no bullying.

“We teach life skills, courtesy, respect, discipline and how to react with the right moves to get away in a bad situation. There is one time and one time only to use martial arts — for self defense,” he said.

Wilbur told parents they should teach and review safety tips with their children regarding: strangers approaching their child, what to do if someone touches them the wrong way, and how to encourage children to trust their own intuition and instincts in an uncomfortable situation.

Parents were further instructed to set up a “secret code word” with their children. This word would be required by anyone, other than the parents, picking up the child from school or other activity.

“Parents, you have to tell your kids that pedophiles could be professional people, relatives, or the guy next door. They will lure your kids with money, pets, candy or even a request for help. Adults don’t ask a child for help,” he said.

Parents should know where their children are at all times, and know numbers to call if their child is missing.

“There are three levels of self defense: thinking your way out of a bad situation; seeing your way out of a bad situation; and defending yourself in a bad situation. Your body belongs to you. Whatever your bathing suit covers, is your area – that is your safe zone,” Wilbur warned. “Remember, your first line of defense is run – get free and run. And scream. Loud.”

Cody Leskin, sixth-grader and first-degree black belt student at ATA said his self- defense training “makes me feel safe.”

Hemberger continued the presentation with sobering statistics about sexual offenders and pedophiles via fact sheets.

“The average victim who is abducted and murdered is approximately an 11-year-old girl who is described as a ’low risk, normal’ kid from a middle class neighborhood with a stable family relationship who has initial contact with their abductor within a quarter of a mile from her home,” he said.

To drive home the vulnerability of such a youngster, he had an 11-year-old female student stand while he gave the description. It worked, as shivers ran through the parent audience. Hemberger said there are 536 registered sexual offenders and 47 registered sexual predators in Lee County alone, with nine registered in zip code 34135.

Packets for child’s DNA sample were passed out with other tips for collecting other identification samples and how to store them in the event of an abduction.

The program concluded with a demonstration of moves effective in warding off an attacker. Assisted by Cory Carbary, St. John Neumann High School junior and current ATA martial arts student, a second-degree black belt, Wilbur selected several students and showed them the power they already have and could use in an emergency.

“Martial arts training is so important – there’s always someone bigger out there. We have to alert the kids to the danger that’s out there today,” said Carbary.

Wilbur has plans to offer the program bi-monthly, free and open to the public.

For information, call Chad Wilbur at ATA Black Belt Academy, Naples 593-5456 or at the Bonita Springs location at 948-8610.

Chad also needs to tell these kids that it is okay to do this to people that they know who try to violate their "safety zone". Uncle Bob and cousin Bill need a swift kick in the nether region if they try to get their jollies too!

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