by J.D. Davidson
Ohio high school students could have to add self-defense to the list of requirements for graduation.
The Student Protection Act, introduced Tuesday in the Ohio House, would expect students entering the ninth grade after July 2023 in both public and private schools to complete self-defense training as part of their required half-year of health.
The push, according to sponsors, is a way to help young women combat the threat of sexual assault and assault.
“Young women between the ages of 16-19 are the most vulnerable to be sexually assaulted,” said Rep. Tom Young, R-Washington Township. “This training will also provide opportunity for development of relationships between students and their local law enforcement and school resource officers.”
The self-defense instruction would have to include a demonstration by a school resource officer or a certified self-defense instructor. Anyone teaching self-defense would have to complete a course in self-defense training.
Analysis of House Bill 639 by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission did not include financial implications of the bill for either the state or local school districts.
“Physical, emotional or sexual abuse and assault are never OK. These behaviors should never be tolerated or go unreported,” said Rep. Andrea White, R-Kettering. “Reinforcing this message with our young people, while equipping them with defensive tactics and proactive strategies will help them protect themselves and avoid dangerous situations.”
White also said the training can be coupled with teaching early-warning signs and symptoms to watch for that could signal mental health issues or manipulative or aggressive behaviors.
She believes preparing ninth-grade students early can help build students’ confidence and help with both staying safe and transitioning into adulthood.
HB639 has yet to be assigned to a committee.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “High School Graduates” by Chris Moncus. CC BY-SA 2.0.