Teachers train in self-defense program
R.A.D. teaches high school students how to reduce risk of rape, ways to fight back
Last updated 2/26/2020 at 3:58pm | View PDF
A group of four teachers covered in pads and wearing helmets prepared for a take-down drill during Friday afternoon's training session at Hinsdale South High School.
The teachers, whose black gear bore resemblance to Shadow Stormtroopers from Star Wars, were working toward certification to bring lessons like this to the students at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South.
All already have been certified in self-defense basic skills for women by the Rape Aggression Defense System, said Lynn Hatzikostantis, a physical education teacher who moved to South this year after spending a decade at Central. For the past three years, students in group exercise classes at Central have been learning those skills in a 3 1/2 week unit.
"This (certification) allows us to create an experience in a safe environment for students where we can actually simulate a possible attack and they can use the kills we are teaching them," Hatzikostantis explained.
Amy Carroll, a PE teacher at Central, said the training is the next step for teachers and students.
"We were very excited to have the opportunity to build on the curriculum. We were just really appreciative of the fact that we were given the opportunity to move on to the next phase of the R.A.D. program itself," she said.
With their new certification, teachers will be able to play the aggressor in simulated attacks, offering students practice in escaping. Only students who are ready for the experience would be involved, the two noted.
"You have some students that would feel really confident in their skills," Hatzikostantis said of those that would be selected to participate.
The R.A.D. curriculum involves more than just learning how to escape an attacker, though.
"It really focuses on the survivor ultimately surviving," Carroll said. "It is incredibly mindful of anything from language to technique in the training process."
The lessons focus on teaching students to value themselves - and to speak up for themselves.
"You can have all these physical skills. If you don't have that voice, these skills aren't going to be as effective," Hatzikostantis said.
Because so many rapes are committed by people known to the victim, the program also teaches students strategies to reduce their risk of being sexually assaulted.
"That risk reduction gives them that sense of a little bit of more control so they don't feel it's a situation that they can't get out of," Carroll said. "That circles back to the empowerment piece."
The two credited Janelle Marconi, Central PE department chair, for introducing them to the R.A.D. program. With the curriculum alignment process underway in District 86, the teachers are preparing to introduce the curriculum at South this fall.
Central parents have been supportive of the program, the two said, and former students have made suggestions to make the curriculum even better.
"In that regard, it's been a rewarding experience as a teacher because you feel like what you are doing is of value and making a difference in each of these individual's lives," Hatzikostantis said.