YAKIMA--What's working in Yakima to help people defend themselves?
Self-defense for young girls and grown women is taking off with the rape aggression defense--or RAD--Program. It's a national program; locally Valhalla Security Training & Consulting offers local classes. Off-duty Yakima police officers teach the classes.
The most important message for students? Running away is the best way to fight back.
"We're not teaching them how to fight," Nate Henyan, Valhalla Security, said. "We're teaching them how to create distance to get away."
The classes get them ready to fight just in case.
Instructors wear heavy padding so the women can fight with full force and make classes a more realistic experience.
Washington Middle School is using grant money to offer these self-defense classes so students are prepared for any situation.
They don't just learn how to fight. They also practice calling 911 and talking themselves out of dangerous situations. After just a few days, these girls feel safer.
"I walk 4 blocks to and from school sometimes," April Guirao said. "This makes me feel more secure. If somebody attacks me I would know what to do."
The R.A.D. classes bring students of every age out of their shells.
"The first day they're very, very quiet, timid somewhat," Henyan said. "But by the end of the day, some of them become very aggressive. The tiger will come out of them. It's a sight to see."
Learning and practicing these techniques is also a big boost for their self-esteem.
"I'm not gonna go toe-to-toe with a big man but I feel like I could hold my own," Jennifer England said. "I have a huge confidence level for being able to take somebody on. I'm not so shy."
Washington Middle School's offering self-defense classes for boys next week. You can sign up for adult R.A.D. classes at www.valhallasecuritytc.com.