We need more than 20 minutes

15 Jan, 2018

“There is a back-to-school grade wide assembly for sixth graders on walking home from school on their own – please join our panel of experts and offer a few tips.”

“We’ve reserved a 20-minute slot for you to speak at an upcoming parent association meeting – we need to resolve the issue of bullying in the lunchroom.”

“Can you meet with graduating seniors and teach them how to stay safe at college? We have one 40-minute period and you will be sharing that with a drug/alcohol prevention workshop.

If you were in our shoes, would you say yes?

We love to meet people of all ages and to partner with schools and families and organizations in the community. We know that small nuggets of information can sometimes help people stay safer or help their kids stay safer. But short cuts and tidbits don’t solve deeply entrenched social problems. We need more than 20 minutes. And we want to share why.

Parents intuitively understand that when the stakes are high for their child/teen, they need comprehensive training. No parent would consider a 20-minute Driver’s Education course sufficient training – the consequences of unsafe driving are enormous.

Similarly, we need to acknowledge that the stakes are also very high when the topic is personal safety: bullying, relationship abuse and physical aggression. Our young people deserve more than a program that only scratches the surface.

Violence prevention is complex and deep. There are no easy answers or quick fixes. There is no magic checklist of behaviors that prevent one from being targeted for street crime or intimate partner violence.

Best practices for violence prevention programs strongly recommend long-term (12 hours or more) experiential learning to allow for appropriate layering and integration of concepts. While we know that longer programs require more commitment from participants and that they can be more difficult to fit into a school schedule, we know that the topic of safety is worth the investment of time and resources.

Prepare’s violence prevention and self-defense programs are at their best when we can engage participants in a multi-disciplinary inquiry that brings this complex subject into focus. We encourage students to connect their own experiences to classroom role-plays and exercises. Instructors utilize current events and historical context to build a social framework for the root causes of violence. Students gain confidence in communicating clearly and setting boundaries while managing adrenaline responses. Body mechanics and physics come into play by learning and enacting last-resort self-protective actions that feel viable regardless of age, size, gender, or ability level. Psychology, sociology, prevailing cultural norms, and advertising all influence what people believe about themselves. We explore how others can manipulate beliefs about who we are, our capabilities, and our sense of worth, and consider how we form our beliefs about others.

Tips are simplistic and not useful. What does make sense is understanding the roots of violence, learning what works to interrupt aggression, practicing and integrating verbal and physical skills, and developing self-knowledge and embodied confidence.

You get it. That takes more than 20 minutes, right?

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