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Jun 21, 2012

Healthy Living gets counselor advice and self defense training

The recent murder of Jasmine Lowe and the numerous cases of abductions of minors has put parents and guardians on high alert. This week, Healthy Living gets advice from a counselor and self defense trainer on teaching your children about personal safety.

 

Renee Wentz, Counselor & Self Defense Instructor

“I think one of the most important reasons is that it happens and it’s been happening for years, but many times it’s been undercover.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It is perhaps the last conversation you’d like to have with your children. Teaching them how to protect themselves from the vile dangers of the world concretizes the reality that your children are never as safe as you’d hope they would be. In light of the recent murder of Jasmine Lowe and other cases or abductions, it is timely to turn her story into a teachable moment.

 

Renee Wentz

Renee Wentz

“Teaching the child how to recognize danger; how to speak up for his or herself and how to do something; what to do if they are in a situation can alleviate some of the fear that parents have.”

 

Renee Wentz is a counselor and self defense instructor. She offers some advice to parents about how to teach children to maintain their personal safety and a few techniques to remove themselves from harmful situations. Her first piece of advice is regarding perpetrators.

 

Renee Wentz

“One of the things that is most important to understand is that most perpetrators of crime against children of abuse—especially of a sexual nature—are coming from people they know; many times from people within their families. I think it’s very important because it happens all the time and it happens at a very young age to some.”

 

Children as young as two and three can be taught about “good touch”/”bad touch”. It is important to talk to them at their level. As the child gets older and would have more contact with strangers, you must begin to teach them more practical skills. One tip is to use safe words with your child.

 

Renee Wentz

“One of the things that I think is a really good idea is that you give your child a safe word. So you would normally tell your child, I won’t send anybody eels for you unless I tell you myself: “Uncle Joe is coming to pick you up” or ‘Auntie Sarah is coming to pick you up.” If Uncle Joe or Auntie Sarah comes to pick you up and I haven’t told you to go with them, you don’t go with them. You also would let them know maybe a safe word. If this word is ‘cat;’ you use that word for a while. Once somebody uses it; once you send somebody and they tell the child “cat,” then the child says, “Okay that’s the word. I know that’s the word, I can go.”  Then you would change it and make another word because we know that sometimes family members do take children and do things to them too.”

 

Another valuable lesson is teaching them to learn to observe they’re surroundings.

 

Renee Wentz

“When you are out with your children, you can point out things. And it also helps you as well, as an individual.  The most important part of that personal safety is observation of your surroundings—recognizing and knowing what is unusual or what’s not right. For instance, if you’re out with your child and you are walking and you see a car and it starts to slow down as it comes near you and in kind of an odd manner. You might want to point out to your child; did you see how that car slowed down? When somebody approaches you in car and they are on the street and they slow down and they come near you, you want to get ready. You want to be ready to recognize if that is a dangerous person.”

 

The stereotypical scenario is of a stranger asking for directions, luring children with toys, animals or money or even offering gifts to the child. Renee says that the idea behind this is to play on the helpful nature of children. Teach your child how to respond if they are ever caught in this scenario.

 

Renee Wentz

“You need to avoid those people. When they start that, you need to remove yourself from them.  One of the things that I saw some interviews with the young ladies in Cayo that reported attempted abduction and one of the young ladies told the man she was very busy; that she was in a hurry cause she was meeting her mother. And that is what I always tell young people to do. In fact, I always say you should always say that you are meeting your daddy because nobody wants to mess with a child and their daddy. Another thing is to let children know is that if at that time, if they feel uncomfortable, if you feel kind of sick to your stomach, if your heart starts to beat really fast, if you feel funny and don’t know why or you feel afraid and you don’t know why; pay attention to that and then it’s ok to lie. That is another hard one because we teach children not to lie and to respect their elders. So not that they need to be disrespectful but in saying: I’m sorry I can’t I can’t talk to you right now; I’m meeting my daddy – and the child should say somewhere close.”

 

Most importantly, tell them to go to a public space and teach them that it’s ok to ask an adult to help them when they are scared. Another tip is to allow your child a cell phone, not necessarily a functioning one, but something to keep on hand in the event that they need to escape. One of Renee’s previous students used the very same technique to get out of a shady situation.

 

Renee Wentz

“She said she was walking home one evening on a well lit highway; a car pulled up next to her with about four to five men in it and they were hissing and saying disgusting comments to her. And so she watched them and she had learned that from me; to not put your head down and not pay attention and they’ll go away, but she watched their movements. They drove down the road, they turned back and headed in her direction and she said she continued to watch them. After they passed her, they turned around and came back towards her. And she said at that time, I got ready because I knew something was going to happen. She said I took out my cell phone and she said Miss, to god I didn’t have any credit. But I opened my phone and as the car pulled up along side of me and stopped, I said: “Yes officer, it’s a white Toyota corolla and the license plate is C5 (swoosh) went the car. They don’t want to get caught and that is probably one of the primary things to let you children know—attackers don’t want to get caught. So if you do anything to disrupt that then they’re more fearful of getting caught than anything else and that’s what this young lady did. She wasn’t talking to anybody, she was just talking to anybody; just loud enough so they so they think she was talking to the police.”

 

Role playing is essential in making children more comfortable in how to respond. The following scenarios Renee advises to practice with your children.

 

Renee Wentz

“One of the thing you really have to avoid is going anywhere—whether that’s by foot, on a bicycle or getting in a vehicle. Even if the person has a weapon, even if the persons says I promise I won’t hurt you; don’t believe that. If they don’t want to hurt you and want to talk to you, they can talk to you right in the spot you’re at. So explain that to your kids. At that time, if someone were to grab or try to get them into their vehicle, they can say this and I had girl practicing this over and over and over. And that’s the other thing we can do; you have to practice it. ask them, “What would you say if a man tries to grab you on the street?” And it is usually a man; it could be a woman. What you would say; “No you’re not my daddy!” “NO you’re not my pa!.”No, don’t touch me.” And they continue to do that over and over until it draws attention. And the reason why you say that is because a lot of time as adults, we see children acting up and we say, “Hmm, da just bad pikni; they just misbehaving.” So it’s important for them to say you’re not this person.”

 

{Demonstration of how to loosen grip from attacker…}

 

If caught in a chokehold, think like a turtle.

 

Renee Wentz

“You do this: it’s called turtling and you see how now you can’t close your fingers. So no matter what you do in that, you can’t close them. So what I did was shoulders up and chin down and the chin comes right over this hole right here. This is where the airway is. So as soon as that goes, if you were holding really tight and I do it that hard, it’s even possible to break someone’s fingers.”

 

It is not a time to shy away from having difficult situation with your children. If you’re hunting for the right way to approach the topic, here’s some advice from Renee.

 

Renee Wentz

“Children hear things and we think they don’t understand. They know what’s going on in a lot of respect. So right now if you’re children have seen the news with you and have been watching the news over the last two weeks with the Jasmine Lowe murder, they know what going on. And you’ll actually make them more comfortable if they know what they can do. So you would actually sit down in a way and not to frighten them and you would say that you heard what happened with the little girl in Cayo and somebody took her away and they hurt her. I would never want that to happen to you. Most people are good people but some people aren’t and you start the conversation from there.”

 

Renee offers Self Defense training in different districts. On June thirtieth, she will be providing self defense training in Dangriga. She also has scheduled trainings in San Pedro in July and Succotz in August. She can be contacted at 630-5571 for more information on her training sessions.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living gets counselor advice and self defense training”

  1. Renee Wentz says:

    Hi, just a correction: I’ll be in Hopkins Village on Saturday, 30 June, not Dangriga. In August, we are looking at Succotz and Benque in Cayo District and working on a training at Banquitas in Orange Walk. July we are working on San Pedro. Since this piece aired there have been requests for Belize City, so if you live there and are interested, please get in contact with me. I can be contacted by email at shethingsd@yahoo.com and you can find me on Facebook at S Renee Wentz. I also have a self-defense page on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/S.H.E.Thing.SelfDefense

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