Sexual assault defensive training coming to ORR

Oct 26, 2017

Physical education teachers Chris Cabe and Nancy Cowen are bringing the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) system to Old Rochester Regional High School.

After being trained in the course last winter, Cabe and Cowen got the go-ahead from the Old Rochester Regional School Committee at Wednesday night’s meeting to start teaching it during physical education classes.

“It’s self defense for our students,” Cowen said. “It will give them empowerment to defend themselves and to get help.”

According to Cowen, one in three women will be sexually abused in their lifetime, while onein four will be sexually assaulted.

The goal of RAD is to provide techniques for women to fight back against attackers.

“The program is to provide instruction in prevention and risk reduction strategies, along with realistic and dynamic hands on physical training,” Cabe said. “RAD system’s philosophy is to provide accessible and affordable self-defense educational programs for all women, men and seniors.”

Cabe also noted that the program empowers women, particularly younger women who may not think they are capable of fighting back.

“Many teenage girls may not feel that they’re strong enough to protect themselves, but they’ll realize they are,” he said. “[RAD] will empower these students to defend themselves…learn to be dependent on themselves, make their own decisions and to realize their own physical strength.”

In addition to the physical aspect of fighting back, RAD also focuses on teaching women how to be aware of their surroundings and possible threats.

“Female students will realize risk awareness, risk reductions, risk recognition and risk avoidance,” Cowen said.

The current plan is for Cowen and Cabe to teach ninth and 10th grade girls during their gym classes, beginning after Thanksgiving. Because juniors and seniors are not required to take physical education classes, Cowen and Cabe thought it would make more sense to reach all girls during their first two years of high school.

“Right now it’s going to be a unit in gym class for about three weeks,” Cabe said. “But if it can turn into a full semester course, we’ll get the chance to run multiple simulations.”

The hope is to eventually offer RAD training as an elective for the upperclassmen as well.

School Committee members were wholeheartedly in support of the program, and stressed the importance of students learning these skills.

“I want to applaud teachers for caring so deeply about the safety of these kids,” Dr. Elise Frangos, assistant superintendent, said. “It’s really all about prevention.”

Committee member Joe Pires agreed that it was important for people to learn these skills, even in communities that feel as safe as the tri-town.

“In the tri-town you have a feeling of being safe, but that’s not necessarily the case,” he said. “I applaud the program. I’m a major advocate of it.”