Local News

Karate school teaches kids to foil abductors

Posted November 25, 2009 2:11 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2009 5:45 p.m. EST

— A karate studio in north Raleigh is teaching children that having confidence and creating a commotion can scare away potential kidnappers.

Instructors at Karate International, 4720 Hargrove Road, said parents should start talking to their children about strangers at a young age.

"My recommendation is even at 3, 3½ (years old) to start with them, gently telling them what the rules are," said instructor Rob Olevsky. He compared teaching children about strangers to such lessons as "what's hot and what's cold and don't run among the cars."

Delphine Peller said she encouraged her 8-year-old daughter Zoe, who has a black belt, to learn karate for self-defense.

"Having these skills, I know that she has options and that she may not panic," Peller said.

Confidence is the first key to escaping a child abductor, instructors said. Students indicated they have learned to be wary.

"You have to be very careful about where you are and what's around you," Zoe said.

"He looks very nice, but he can just take you away to an ice cream shop and then kidnap you," said 11-year-old karate student Neel Patel, who is a deputy black belt.

Instructors teach practical ways to get away from an abductor, including breaking their grip and squirming. "You run away and find an adult and tell them what's happening," Neel said.

If they can't get away, children should create as big a commotion as possible to alert nearby people that they're in danger.

Olevsky demonstrated a "safety stance," in which a child thrusts his arms straight out and gives a direct, loud command to stop. If all else fails, a child can drop to the ground and start kicking and screaming.

"You can scream as much as you want just to get other people's attention, so you can actually get rid of him," Zoe said.

Instructors said that parents should engage their children in an ongoing discussion about safety.

"I've always spoken to her about it and answered her questions honestly," Peller said.

"It's important, because you never know when someone is going to try to come behind you and try to take you away. But you always have to be prepared for the unknown," Neel said.