As your child becomes a teenager, she’s going to start leaving the nest without you more often. If you’re worried about your teen’s safety when she’s away from your parental gaze, there are things you can do to help her stay safe when she’s out and about.
Here, Metro Parent spoke to the Madeline Ensign, the kid’s program coordinator and daily operations manager at Krav Maga Detroit in Troy, to give you some tips, techniques and advice regarding self-defense for teens.
Stay aware of your surroundings
When your teen is at an event on her own, or with friends, it is important to stress to her to stay aware and keep focused on her surroundings.
“Don’t sit and stare at your phone,” Ensign says. “Make sure you’re always looking around.”
Being aware also gives your teen the opportunity to look around and to see what she could use in an altercation if the option to run or hide wasn’t available, Ensign says.
Use your smartphone
Your teen should always keep her phone on her, just in case something dangerous happens. Smartphones have many location apps nowadays, so use that as one of the tools of self-defense for teens.
“Always have a friend know where you’re at,” Ensign says.
And with smartphones comes social media, so make sure your teen is aware if she has a public social media page and to know when, how and where she is posting her status updates.
“Be careful what you post on all of your social media and who has access to it,” Ensign says.
Use a self-defense tool
It’s always best to be safe than sorry. And staying safe doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. Mace spray usually ranges from $10 to $20 and “safety cat” is about $10. Gel mace, which ranges from $18 to $50, is more effective, she says, especially on a windy day.
And if you’re wondering which weapon to use, it really comes down to situational awareness, Ensign says.
For example, when walking around, always make sure teens keep their keys in their fist and all other weapons easily accessible.
“Regardless of what they’re carrying, know an effective way to use it and understand how to use it,” Ensign says. “Go to someone who has a background in it to help train you.”
Use your hands and legs
Always remember if your teen is facing physical threat or harm, it’s OK to fight back.
“There are always going to be vulnerable targets on an attacker, no matter their age or size, like the face or groin,” Ensign says.
Strike or gouge the eyes and kick the knees or groin, Ensign suggests.
But, if your teen senses it’s going to turn into something physical, have them try to de-escalate it, she adds, as it is most important that she goes home safely.
“Strike until you can safely get away from the threat,” Ensign says.
Before your teen leaves the house, make sure she has her phone, or a weapon she can carry, such as keys, mace or the “safety cat.”
When your teen is out, encourage her to walk with other people, especially people she trusts, Ensign says.
If the group your teen is walking around with is making dumb decisions that she isn’t comfortable with, she needs to know it’s OK to say something, stick up for herself or leave the situation altogether, Ensign says.
“Get out of a situation before a situation starts,” she adds.
Take a self-defense class
Consider signing up your younger child or teen in a class that can teach them all these skills and more – as it’s always best to be taught by a professional.
Krav Maga, for example, is a skill that is designed to educate civilians on how to defend themselves quickly and effectively at any size or age, Ensign says.
Krav Maga Detroit offers a free first class to those interested in learning more about this defense tactic. Call 248-688-9501 for more information.
This post was originally published in 2018 and is updated regularly.