Sippican to Implement ‘radKIDS’ Defense Program

Students at Sippican School will soon learn the ABCs of self-defense through a training curriculum aimed at providing a holistic approach to self-safety and responding to violence defensively.

The radKIDS program trains children to “think about the unthinkable” in situations of relational violence, bullying, and resisting aggression in all environments.

The program was brought to Sippican School as an inter-district response to a youth risk survey given to students in grades 7 to 12. Data analyzed by the school districts and the new healthy Tri-Town Coalition prompted concerns about students’ experiences with relational violence in and outside school, as well as with interpersonal relationships, substance abuse, and depression.

The radKIDS program, says Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos, will help combat the first aspect: relational violence.

“It’s a great social emotional program,” said Frangos. “The key is really empowering kids with what can happen to children off campus or even on campus.” This includes, she said, bullying, being met with unkindness, or any physical violence. The program provides children with the tools to know what to do when those situations happen, Frangos said.

Frangos herself is a trained radKIDS instructor, and several Sippican School teachers recently attended the five-day training to become certified radKIDS facilitators as well.

The radKIDS curriculum is a developmental evidence-based curriculum that facilitates self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills.

“[It] fosters resiliency,” said Frangos. Instead of freezing with fright, students are conditioned to override their ‘fight or flight’ response – “a bouncing-back,” as Frangos called it. “Sometimes when something tough happens to that kid … it’s really hard to get your adrenalin to work for you instead of against you.”

Aspects of the curriculum help kids to discover personal empowerment, set boundaries, and critically think about which defensive tools to use in any given situation.

Through radKIDS and its multi-sensory approach, Frangos suggested, “The brain helps us think rationally as opposed to just being frozen … and what moves to take instead of fight or flight.”

Topics of the eight-hour curriculum that will be introduced to students during physical education class include school safety, home safety, bullying prevention, medicine safety, stranger safety, and even addresses topics such as how to approach dogs.

Some statistics on the nationwide outcome of implementing the radKIDS program show an 80% decrease in conflict and bullying in participating schools. Over 300,000 students have been trained so far, and 5,000 radKIDS facilitators are currently certified in the country.

According to statistic provided, radKIDS has helped over 125 trained students to escape attempted abduction, and thousands have escaped abusive situations.

School attendance in participating schools also increased as a result of the training.

Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons and Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee, both trained in the curriculum, have endorsed introducing the program to area schools.

The three principles of the program are: 1. No one has the right to hurt you; 2. One does not have the right to hurt someone else (unless it is in self-defense); and 3. It is not their fault if someone tries to hurt them.

The program will be unfolded in stages, with grade 6 parents first receiving an invitation from the school to attend an informational session about radKIDS.

The program will be implemented this year and information in the form of a safety manual will also be distributed to families.

Next year, grades 5 and 6 will experience the program.

“I think this is awesome,” said Marion School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini. “This is the stuff that keeps me up at night…. I think this is wonderful and it really shows the more advanced thinking that we’re trying to do with our kids.”

Marcolini said she found the statistics presented “disturbing.”

“Our hope is that by the time children leave our school districts they’re really empowered … to combat any difficult situation,” said Frangos.

The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for March 15 at 6:30 pm at the Marion Town House.


By Jean Perry


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