Self-defense for kids: Protection or Violence?
Should we be teaching 3 year olds how to fight?
Reporter: Corinne Hautala
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) Dozens of children, in Tucson, enroll in self-defense classes each year. Instructors teach children how to throw a punch and the best places to kick. Is it protection for children? Or teaching them violence?
KGUN9 sat in on a radKIDS class. It is a self-defense course for children as young as 3 years old.
The instructor, Bruce Montoya, explained radKIDS stands for resisting aggression defensively. Montoya says the focus is to protect children from abduction; teaching kids how to use their voice and body to get-away. It also teaches the children to call police and what to tell the dispatch operator.
It appears to be a well-rounded class, but KGUN9 wanted to know if the younger children in the class understand when to use the techniques they learn.
KGUN9 asked Montoya, if his younger students know they aren't supposed to use the fighting tools, they learn in class, against others besides a potential abductor?
He said, "Yes."
While our cameras filmed the class, Montoya asked his students if it was okay to use the techniques they learned on their little brother.
The kids shouted, "Yes."
Montoya says the response was the kids acting out, because the cameras were there. He added, if he felt the kids meant it he would have taken the kids to the side and talked one-on-one with them.
Though, Montoya admits, parents have shown hesitation to have him teach their children how to fight.
"Parents have said, 'well are they going to use this against me, their sister or brother?'" He explained.
Since every child is different, Montoya requires parent involvement. He says he also evaluates every child in his class and has told parents that their child is not fit for his class.
"I've done it quite often. They don't like it. It doesn't bother me, but we're here to protect the kids and our program and the integrity of our program," he explained, "We've had kids in here that were bullies. That came in here trying to sneak in and the parents thought, 'he's not a bully,' well I can tell he is."
Montoya also teaches a class on how to deal with school bullies. In that class, Montoya teaches children to handle bullies by firmly telling them to stop. He tells his students to block any potential punches from the bully and to never hit back.
Isa Olivas says she has been bullied for years. The 11-year-old says after taking Montoya's class she is more assertive and confident.
"I used to cry. Now, I tell them 'get away, that's not nice, leave me alone,'" said Olivas.