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Police teach Madison High School girls how to defend themselves against potential attackers

A group photo of those who participated in the Rape Aggression Defense Systems (R.A.D.) with the Rexburg Police Department. | Courtesy Katelyn Hartley

REXBURG — Sixteen Madison High School female students recently went head-to-head with police officers in an effort to be prepared for the unexpected.

As part of a Family and Consumer Sciences elective course, the girls participated in the Adult Living and Dating class. Generally, areas such as communication skills, finances, interview techniques, meal preparations and resumes are covered. But last trimester the students had a unique experience by participating in the Rape Aggression Defense Systems (R.A.D) with the Rexburg Police Department.

“The purpose of R.A.D is to empower women,” school resource officer and R.A.D. Director Doug Boivie told EastIdahoNews. “They are taught avoidance strategies to help at home when traveling while dating and in everyday life situations. They are also taught how to fight to defend themselves from abduction and to fend off the attacker and then escape from the situation. We want to give the ladies who take R.A.D. options to defend themselves, using their personal weapons when they are attacked.”

When Boivie introduced the program to the girls, family consumer science teacher Katelyn Hartley realized how daunting it sounded to the students. They would be expected to put what they learned to the test against the officers in a simulation exercise.

“You tell them that at the end you’re going to fight off three cops – that’s very intimidating for a 15- to 17-year-old high school girl,” Hartley said. “It was amazing to see them grow with it. Each day their confidence grew a little and a little more.”

Over almost a month, three days a week for an hour, the group met. Boivie and Officer Pete Noel walked the girls through techniques. They learned different punches, kicks and how to project their voice. They also discovered strategies on how to get in and out of vehicles safely, tips for locking their doors and how to best scan their surroundings.

On the last day of the program, the girls went into the gym one at a time to be tested by the officers. Every student was padded from head to toe. They were given three different scenarios and had to respond with what they were taught. After completing the exercises, the students gathered to watch the film of themselves.

“R.A.D. has taught me many things and helped me in many ways. It has built up my confidence. I don’t feel like I will freeze anymore,” participant Ella Lauritzen said. “I know that I can protect myself in any type of situation and prevent myself from being in these types of situations. I can honestly say that R.A.D. has changed my life and the way I look at it.”

This was the second time Madison High School participated in the program. Hartley said another teacher is working with Boivie right now to see if they can repeat the program.


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