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November 17, 2013

Police program teaches women and girls self-defense

NORMAN — Fifty percent of all rapes come before the age of 18. That was a statistic that stayed in the back of Norman police Sgt. Robert “Bob” Moore’s mind as he and others developed a program to combat that statistic.

My Body … My Life … Empowering Women Through Awareness, Education, Violence Prevention and Self-defense Techniques started 20 years ago to address some of the inappropriate relationships high school girls were involved in.

Moore said at that time, Norman police worked at Norman Public Schools and he got to know many of the students, staff and faculty. The principal of Norman High School at the time, Dan Quinn, asked Moore to develop a program that would focus on rape and violence prevention as well as self-defense for the young women.

Over the years, the program was then tweaked and developed for women of all ages, from 13 to 93.

“We want to protect as many women as we can,” Moore said.

The program is now divided into 10 segments: introduction, awareness, empowerment, relationships, self-esteem and abuse, alcohol and drugs, date-acquaintance rape, violent rape, cyber cautions and closure.

Stemming from the women’s program the Moore also developed a men’s program called REAL Men (Relationship Education and Awareness for Life). Moore said males are not taught self-defense techniques in this program, but instead focuses on respect and sympathizing with women.

While men are predominately the predators in these situations, they can also be victims too, he said. The men’s program mainly enables men to be better suited to understand violence against women and why they should communicate and be empathetic to women, Moore said.

The programs are taught in every middle school and high school in Norman, as well as in the Moore-Norman Technology Center. It is also taught to University of Oklahoma sororities and student groups as well as women’s organizations, clubs, church groups and businesses in and around Norman.

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