WCHS should offer self-defense classes for protection


Courtesy of Creative Commons.

The teaching of self-defense has been subject to much controversy by WCHS students. Self-defense, as useful and important as it is, is not frequently taught in high school P. E. classes.

By Jasper Bernstein, Assistant Observations Editor

September 16 was a normal day at Walt Whitman High School until a student unexpectedly physically attacked another student with a kitchen appliance: a frying pan. Although the incident was promptly taken care of by school security, many WCHS students were worried for their own safety after the fight. This incident has made one thing clear– self-defense should be a part of the physical education curriculum.

Most people do not think of Potomac, MD as an area with a large amount of violence. However, the most recent events at WWHS have shown that fights can happen anywhere– even at WCHS. 

When most WCHS students think of physical education, they usually think of sports that involve styrofoam balls or basketball courts. Self defense is currently not a part of the physical education curriculum. Yet, self defense is a tool exponentially more necessary than the ability to play dodgeball or badminton will ever be.

According to Orion Security, over 750,000 students in the U.S. aged 12-18 years have directly experienced violent crimes. Without proper self-defense training, students are unable to defend and protect themselves against these violent crimes. 

Critics of self-defense in schools will argue that self defense will encourage fighting and lead to even more violence within schools.

However, self defense classes will teach students basic skills of how to de-escalate a situation. This will dramatically decrease the amount of fights and prevent the self-defense skills from ever being necessary in the first place. 

Recently at WCHS, there has been outrage at the new “Wellness Wednesday” policy. A simple solution may be in self defense. 

Self defense is a very calming sport, when practiced and exercised properly. The repetition and cooperation with others leads builds a technique to help relax the mind and body.

According to May 2018 article by The Conversation, martial arts is great for the brain. The research found that martial arts training reduces levels of aggressive behaviors and stress, and in turn increases emotional well-being. 

Training has also been linked to better memory, something that can greatly help WCHS students when preparing for tests.

Self defense training will also reduce the amount of violence in schools as a whole. It will be harder to pick fights with the knowledge that everyone knows how to fight back. The survey found that self-defense training led to eight to eleven year olds being more likely to help out a peer when they are being bullied. 

Rather than give students unstructured free time, martial arts is a great way to improve the mental health of WCHS students. Martial arts are sports that largely go unrecognized by most people as one of the best ways to physically and mentally improve health. Adding self defense to the county’s curriculum and teaching it in classrooms is a great way to proactively help students to protect themselves not only within the walls of the school, but in the rest of their lives.