Self-defense programs reduce sexual assault in adolescent girls
Female sexual abuse is not uncommon, unfortunately; many cases go unreported (particularly in developing communities) and deleterious psychological effects may be prolonged.
In adolescents warning signs include:
1. Self-injury (cuttings, burnings)
2. Changes in personal hygiene
3. Drug and alcohol abuse
4. Sexual promiscuity
5. Anxiety, depression and/or suicide attempts
6. Fear of closeness
7. Compulsive eating or dieting
A total group of 522 high school girls (mean age 16.7 years) in different schools in Nairobi, Kenya, participated in a survey which identified those who had been sexually assaulted in the previous year (baseline data). Following a standardized 6-week self-defense program in half the group, the survey was repeated in
the following year.
Over 50% of girls in developing communities who have been taught self-defense mechanisms against sexual assault use them to avert an attack in the year following training; this represents a decrease in such assaults by a factor of 2.5 (from 24.6% at baseline to 9.2% at follow up).
Journal of Adolescent Health