In an excerpt from the Violence Prevention Project “Not With Me!” Elementary school students learn about assertiveness and self-defense.
Sulz-Mühlheim – “Help me, help me!” Some children sitting on the floor screamed. Around them are more children running around. But the children do not miss anything – they participate in the self-defense program “Not with me!” For the German Ju-Jutsu Association (DJJV).
With voice and body language
As part of the summer vacation programme, children aged 6 to 8 are given a short form in the underground garage behind the Mühlheim Primary School. Thomas Juncker and Mark Stein will be responsible for the course, with support from Stein’s daughter Mara.
The actual cycle, according to Janker, lasts about six days with an hour and a half per day. “The main thing with this exercise is that children learn to use their voices,” Junker says. This is often an effective way to deter someone.
Louder than a motorcycle
And kids can raise their voices out loud: During a “say no” exercise, a group of kids can reach an impressive 101 decibels. For comparison: 85 dB corresponds to a lawn mower and motorcycle noisy, about 100 dB.
In addition to games and exercises, children also learn all kinds of things about violence, self-defense and self-defense – age-appropriate, of course. Using a traffic light system, Stein and Junker explain how children can behave in any situation.
Avoid, dodge, resist
Green means recognizing and avoiding potential dangers – for example by changing the side of the road. In yellow, it is important to ask for help, talk to or confront the corresponding person. If nothing helps, or if the other person becomes violent, the situation turns red: then there is nothing left but to defend yourself – also physically.
“You can defend yourself if others hit you,” Stein explains. “You don’t have to wait for the other to hit you.” However, one should not take revenge and not allow himself to be provoked. “Once someone stops, you have to stop yourself,” says Stein. If you don’t, you are the one committing violence and committing a crime.
Serious topics prepared in a child-friendly manner
In between, daughter Mara reads from three books: Gisela Brown’s “The Big and the Small No” is about letting kids say “no” out loud if they don’t want something — even to adults. “Maybe one should say that’s a little nicer for my dad and mom,” Stein says.
Marlis Arrold’s saying “I don’t go with everyone” also relates to the question: What do I know about a person who says “come with me”? “You don’t have to look for evil in everyone,” Stein says. “But if someone offers you something, don’t go along with it.”
Mary Wabby’s book I Thought You Were My Friend aims to subtly educate children about the horrific topic of sexual abuse. “If you have a ‘stomachache’ about something or if you feel uncomfortable, tell someone. Trust your feelings,” Stein encourages children.
“How does Mara look again?”
It gets tricky again when it comes to describing the perpetrator or the victim: Stein explains to the kids what’s important when making an emergency call and what you can remember about a person or their vehicle. Meanwhile, daughter Mara leaves the room almost unnoticed.
Stein asks the group, “How did Mara look again? What was she wearing?” The children seem a little helpless, even though they have seen Mara for hours. They correctly guessed the color of their eyes, their pants and their height.
“But details like the print on the jacket are also very important,” Stein says. On Mara’s jacket, for example, “Ju-Jutsu Renfrizhausen” is written in white with a drawing of a fighter. In the case of cars, the number plate is especially important, because there is only one of them in all of Germany.
Overall, the kids as well as Janker, Stein and Mara had a lot of fun on the course. “It’s very important for us to teach children how to assert themselves,” Stein and Juncker say. Many returned home at the end of the course with a smile and a renewed sense of self.