VALHALLA, N.Y. -- As safety is a top priority in the Valhalla Union Free School District, the physical education and health staff members began a new initiative to educate students about how to guard themselves against abduction.
Since January, each school has delved into an age-appropriate curriculum aimed at helping students learn strategies to keep them safe in school, at home and online.
The Valhalla physical education staff wrote a curriculum about stranger awareness, Internet safety and knowing your surroundings. Valhalla Middle School students learned self-defense techniques, which gave them confidence and the knowledge of how to behave in case of bullying or an attack. The techniques did not teach the children how to fight, but rather how to defend themselves.
“If we can teach them these skills, we’re enabling them to protect themselves,” said physical education teacher Kevin Martins. “Research shows that kids might be bullied based on a lack of assertiveness, so being confident can dwindle bullying down. This program gives them the ability to stand up for themselves.”
At Kensico School, students learned about cyber safety so that they do not share personal information online. They were also taught how to be cautious when walking around their neighborhoods or to and from school.
At Virginia Road Elementary School, the students learned the differences between a trusted adult, an acquaintance and a stranger. They read the books “Never Ever Talk to Strangers” by Ann Marie Pace and “The Berenstain Bears Learn about Strangers” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, which touched on those topics.