Austin Girl Scouts learn how to defend themselves against potential kidnappers

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kindergarten and first-grade Girl Scouts from Central Texas spent their Sunday learning how to defend themselves if faced with a kidnapping situation.

They got lessons in how to escape a locked car trunk, how to protect their personal space and how to attract help from adults during an attempted abduction.

Rawa Gokhaley was just one of many girls who learned different techniques, but she said the wrist escape was her favorite.

“You clasp your hands together and you twist away and you shout ‘don’t touch me there,’ to get people’s attention,” the 8-year-old demonstrated.

She goes to taekwondo classes already so she said she’ll be extra prepared if she’s ever faced with a dangerous situation.

According to the National Crime Information Center, a child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds. An even more chilling number shows that girls make up 74% of all child abduction cases.

Beyond learning straight-line defense for kidnapping situations, Polly Johnson, who teaches self-defense classes with the Girl Scouts, said she aims to make the classes empowering for the girls.

“It’s so important for our young ladies to learn how to speak up for themselves and stand up for themselves, establish their boundaries and know how to communicate when somebody’s infringing on those boundaries and what to do if somebody tries to harm them or hurt them or take them away,” she said.

She got involved with teaching karate after her daughter was being bullied in kindergarten, and decided it would be best to enroll her in a class as well.

Here are a couple of things she teaches the Girl Scouts in their classes:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Pay attention to what’s going on around you
  • Avoid situations where you’re at risk

If you’re ever in a situation where you’re at risk:

  • Make noise
  • Draw attention to yourself
  • Scream and yell

“One of the biggest deterrents for a criminal is if you are confident, you project confidence and skill, they’re going to look for an easier target,” Johnson said. “Hopefully no young lady that we’ve worked with is ever in that situation, but the idea that they have the confidence to know how to respond and deal with them, that’s the single most important thing.”

“If a bad guy grabbed me I would know what to do because of this program,” Gokhaley said.

“It’s the idea that I know that when these girls leave here, they’re better equipped to handle situations that may come their way in this world we live in now than they might have been when they walked in the door,” Johnson said.

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