Earlier this month, the School offered self-defense classes taught by instructors from IMPACT Boston to about a dozen female-identifying Upper School students.
According to its website, IMPACT Boston aims to provide “realistic personal safety training that gives people the skills to respond appropriately to threatening situations in the moment of fear or intimidation.” The organization also collaborates with schools to proactively prevent abuse.
The programming was stretched over two three-hour sessions, covering such topics as de-escalating potentially threatening situations, resisting peer pressure, bullying, and self-protection strategies.
“This was a program specifically designed for girls,” Upper School Head Joshua Neudel said, noting that increasingly, women nationwide are faced with unwanted advances or harassing behavior. “If there is a group of students interested in another self-defense class, specifically for girls or for boys, then we would look into the possibility of it,” he said.
Last spring, Melissa Ewing (P ’19) suggested a self-defense class for female students, but more time was needed to plan, according to Neudel.
“The class helped our female students be aware of potentially dangerous situations, how to avoid them when possible, how to de-escalate, and how to escape,” said Neudel. “Given the data that is available about safety on college campuses, we felt this was a way to help provide training for students.”
According to the Office of Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five women in college experiences sexual assault. Furthermore, the website says, “studies show that students are at the highest risk of sexual assault in the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.”
Furthermore, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or gay are more likely to experience sexual assault on college campuses than heterosexual women.
Paola Mammano ’20, who attended the event, said, “The class showed us how to control the situation verbally and physically. Having the tools that I learned in the class make me feel more confident.”
“I heard about the class from my parents, but also from conversations with my classmates. I really liked the approach the class took. I thought it was very comprehensive and really well taught” added Maya Bousek ‘19.