By Senator Christine Kehoe
March 24, 2010 (San Diego) --Violence against women has plagued the world for centuries, and recent events in San Diego County remind us just how much more needs to be done in California.
With the recent cases of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, a torrent of sadness, frustration, and anger has overtaken us. Their deaths fueled calls for tougher laws against registered sex offenders and self-defense classes for middle and high school students in an attempt to better prepare girls and women to protect themselves.
Despite the progress women have made – particularly over the last 30 years – in athletics, the arts, academia, and politics, we remain targets of sexual assault and other acts of brutality.
Nothing could have illustrated that reality more than the abduction and deaths of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Each girl was outside in daylight and yet was still subject to horrendous violence. This violation of personal and public space is deeply disturbing for the community because it makes us all feel vulnerable. How many women have quit running alone in San Diego because they are frightened? None of us should be required to “be on alert” at all times just to avoid a physical attack. None of us should fear that being alone in the daytime increases the odds of being assaulted. Sadly, these fears remain part of a woman’s world – whether in San Diego or any other community in the United States.
The reality is that women and girls must always be vigilant to protect themselves against violence. Part of the solution may involve training them on how to ward off potential attackers.
Last December, a young woman trained in self-defense fought off an assailant in the same area where Chelsea King was murdered. Her ability to protect herself is a testament to the value of, and need for, such programs.
I plan to introduce legislation that would include self-defense training as part of the physical education curriculum for middle and high school students in California. Although self-defense training is no guarantee of safety, such training will empower girls and young women and help reduce assaults, abductions, and even deaths.
Given the world we live in today, I urge girls and women to enroll in a self-defense class today. This may only be a small part of the long-term solution, but we must do what we can to increase our awareness of the dangers that still exist.
If you support my legislation, please add your name to a petition on my website. Visit www.senate.ca.gov/kehoe and click on “Self-Defense Training.”
Senator Kehoe represents the 39th Senate District, which includes San Diego, Del Mar, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, La Presa, and Casa de Oro-Mount Helix.
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