OPINION: Self defense should be taught in school

Far from a ‘fight club,’ self defense training could have important benefits for students.

Luci DiBonaventura '25, Contributor

Students are taught how to be safe during lockdowns and fires, and how to swim safely, so why aren’t simple self defense mechanisms also taught in school? 

One of the school’s main jobs is to ensure the safety of its students. To do so effectively, schools should integrate some self defense training into the curriculum. 

Teenagers’ situational awareness is getting worse, as they are constantly looking down at their phones. Awareness is extremely important for keeping yourself safe. Even just going over safety protocols to keep yourself and your belongings safe would have a great impact on the safe choices students make now and in the future.

Physical education teacher Mrs. Margie Garrity expressed her concerns about personal safety and situational awareness. 

“I try and talk about that in my classes,” Garrity said. “When we do first aid, you talk about personal safety and I try to make people more aware, particularly in this day and age when everybody’s face is on their phone. Something that simple can make the difference between getting jumped and not getting jumped.”

According to research, the goal of modern self-defense training is to help students make good choices, recognize potentially dangerous situations, and take action to prevent a physical altercation.

There are many different options for where and when self defense can be taught in school. Self defense could be taught in physical education classes during the safety unit, as its own elective, or even as an extracurricular option. 

In the safety unit, students already learn about CPR and first aid, so why not incorporate some basic self defense with the unit? 

Learning self defense in physical education or health classes would just be an introduction. It might not go into any physical hand-to-hand practices and could just go over how to stay safe, how not to make yourself a target, and what to do in a couple of common dangerous situations.

Junior Katie Foca agrees that self defense should be taught in school.

“I think that self defense is a valuable skill that everyone should learn,” Foca said.  “I don’t know if it should be mandatory, but I do feel like we should have an option, especially with the current state of the world. It’s just like a precaution that I feel like could be beneficial to be taught in schools.”

Sophomore Sage Baker would take advantage of a self defense course if it was offered. “I think it’s something that is really important to learn and I want to keep myself safe in dangerous situations,” she said.

Self defense might be a valuable skill, but is it realistic to teach? There could be some issues with teaching self defense. Students who might not like physical touch would find it hard to learn it. Teachers would need to develop new curriculum and enhance existing resources.

Still, there are a few options for still having self defense being taught without major problems. 

Self defense could be taught just in health classes for a day and not require students to use any physical contact with one another. If it was also taught in gym classes, students could have the option to opt out if they didn’t want to participate. Self defense also would not have to be mandatory— it could be offered as an elective for students. 

“I think it would be a great topic to be looked at in school but I think it would be hard to teach in school because it’s a skill that has to be practiced,’’ Garrity said. “It would have to be an elective and wouldn’t be taught in normal health or gym classes.”

Learning self defense in school doesn’t mean learning how to fight. It means learning how to make the right choices to prevent yourself from getting into danger.