Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

'Self Defense vs Self Worth'...A Protect Team Member's Perspective

I've been coming along to Phil Thompson’s peace and harmony sessions (AKA "Protect Group Classes" - Phil) for about 3 years now and I’m finding its changing me in interesting ways. Let me explain….. It’s a bit of a journey but bear with me. The perspective might surprise you.

Recently my wife, my 18 month old boy and I were in our people-mover heading
down the southern motorway. I usually travel in the middle lane, today there
was someone in the middle lane doing about 70 kmph, I moved into the far right
lane (aka the fast lane, never made sense to me the limit is still 100 right?).
I moved into the right hand lane and could see a ute coming up behind me very
fast, a big shiny black V8 ute in a big hurry.

I must have been out in the fast lane for 10 seconds doing about 100 kmph, and the ute
was on me, I think maybe 2 meters off my rear bumper. It’s a strange reality,
it’s a bit like it’s all hardly moving, because you're all moving at the same
speed. But imagine if something goes wrong, imagine the tearing, ripping sound
as we all slow down to zero in an instant. So there I am, the guy in the ute
pulls into the middle lane and then passes me. When he’s gone past he pulls
hard right, so hard my wife actually yelped (not a term I'd normally
use!!). As he pulled back into the right hand lane he cut me off so hard that
his rear bumper was perhaps 50cm from my front bumper.

So, what now? This was really threatening; in fact it was life threatening for
my entire family. So what now?

Roll forward about 2 weeks, I'm sitting in a friends lounge recounting all
this. I make the point, “ what am I supposed to do, have some kind of suicidal
western style duel at 100kmph on the southern motorway”. Now my friend has heard
me spout the “hoiler than thou” doctrine for years” and he calls me out in the
best fashion.

“But you can’t keep doing that right? You can’t keep just letting people walk
over you with no comeback, you’ve got to stand up for yourself right?”. “So that
guy has forgotten about you as just another twat to shunt out of the way, but
it’s weeks later and your still thinking about it” so somehow he won, I mean,
your still dealing with it, he’s not”.

Well, those comments really made me think about this. But then I realized
something really important, it’s me talking about this to my friends, my
family, my close friends at Protect that is the positive outlet. When my friend
Jim asked, “So aren’t you just bottling this up”. My answer is “yes, kind of".
It all becomes part of the case study….. Part of the testimony that protects me,
my friends, my training partners.

Because I can tell them there is a way to express this without risking life and limb, there is a way to make this a positive outcome. It’s a way that certainly makes my world a lot safer, teaches my little boy how to behave (i.e not like a baboon). It's very cathartic, sure I will chew on these experiences, mull them over, but they are infact a positive, an opportunity to learn about myself. And finally I’m really at a point where I trust myself to make good decisions, that’s a
great outcome!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Workplace 'Bully' loses his advantage! (repost)

This is a re-post of an earlier blog as this issue has just come to light again...
At Protect we don't use the term 'bullying' for any situations involving anyone older than around 10 years. After that age we call it what it really is: 'Peer Aggression'.
By giving the issue the mantle that it deserves people tend to take the issue more seriously, and it is a serious issue. It causes loss of confidence, self esteem, and self belief, it has caused suicides, murders, assaults, and substance abuse, broken up families and ruined countless people's lives.
It is not an issue that should be tolerated, either at school, the workplace or in any other facet of life.
Yesterday I received an email from a man who attended one of our recent 'Best Defence (phase 1)' courses, I'll call him Joe, which is not his real name. He explained how he had been the target of a 'workplace bully' for the past year. He had bought the issue up to management only to have it 'played down' and to a large degree, dismissed. It has caused him huge stress and affected his home life and his health. He told me that he has been looking for another job unsuccessfully, and that the sole reason for him wanting to leave his employer of six years (at a job that he otherwise loves) was because of this person.
At 'Best Defence' (as with all of our core courses) we address the behvioural and psychological aspects of self defence as well as the physical. Because of the way we train attendees there is an immediate shift in belief systems, resulting in greater confidence and a feeling of personal empowerment. This is the basis of effective self defence.Jow explained that the course had such a deep impact on him that he walked into his office on Monday morning a different person, different to the person who left on Friday night. He took immedite action on the issue of his tormentor. He had a meeting with his boss where he confidently explained what was happening and what the options were for them. His boss has now taken the matter seriously and is standing behind Joe with the support and action required.He then met with the man who has been causing the issues. Joe told me that he would NEVER have been able to have the conversation, with the degree of confidence and certainty, prior to the course. He addressed the issue in a non-challenging, non-threatening way, but with a confidence and focus that left his prior aggressor under no illusions of his options. He also did it in such a way as to let the man save face and have a 'way out' (which we teach), and the man took it. He has gained an apology and the past week has been a different experience for him when he arrives at work. In his words: " The weight is off my shoulders and I am actually enjoying going to work again."
How did this take place? Because self defence (real Self Defence) training empowers you with a confidence and belief system which all on it's own makes you a 'hard target' for aggressor's, it grows you as a person from your core.
Emerson once said: "Who you are screams so loudly in my ears that I can not hear what you are saying"
Joe told me that he originally attended our course (thinking like most people that self defence is all about martial arts and/or solely physical moves, which it is not) to learn to physically protect himself becasue he expected the situation to get so bad that he would be assaulted physically. He said that what he gained was infinitely more, it made him a strong person, with the confidence to stand up for himself and the skills to do it in a way which made the situation better and not worse.
I acknowledge Joe for realising the need to imporove his situation, for attending the course, for taking the action, and for sharing his story with me.This is what self defence at Protect is all about.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Protect assisting Youthline

Protect Self Defence NZ are very proud to be partnering and sponsoring YouthLine in a new inititive to build a $3million Youth and Community Development Centre in South Auckland. This will make a significant difference to the South Auckland community! Very cool.

Rape Prevention Education

We have had amazing feedback from the attendees of the 'Women's Personal Safety' seminar in Auckland! As well as sharing valuable information, we also raised much needed funds for RPE! Excellent result all round, and we would like to thank everyone who helped make it happen, especially Chris Mitch and the teams at PropertyTutors and OBD design. You guys all rock!
Phil

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Widen your view - Latest article by Darcy Mellsop

Just over a week ago I provided a self defence presentation as part of a Bunnings Ladies
only night. Before the presentation I was talking to a lady who supplied me
with a pretty simple perspective to self defence: Just punch him in the groin.

I said that self defence is more than physical. To which she replied: Of course, you can just
run. Me: What if you can’t run? Her: Well - just don’t be there.
Me: Is it that simple? There were over 7000 instances of assault and sexual assault
reported to Police in the Wellington region last year, surely not one of those
7000 survivors of those incidents chose to be there, so then, “just not being
there” isn’t that easy is it?

I shared with her Rachel’s story, as I had in this column 6 weeks ago. What does “just
not being there” mean? I put it to her that it can’t be about not going for a
run, not seeing a movie late at night, not meeting new people, and in Rachel’s
case, not dating ever again? Avoidance does require great decision making, but
it isn’t living at home behind a locked door all your life.

Great avoidance is about being able to live a full life knowing that your intuition
is empowered to spark when it detects something that isn’t right. Your
intuition needs to be empowered with information, which is what I shared in my
presentation, I’ve shared with you in earlier columns and will share with you
in future columns. That is self defence.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Knives in schools...

The October 16th edition of the Herald On Sunday (pg 16) featured an article titled ‘Armed in The Classroom”. The front page teaser for the article read “Knives in schools. The statistics that will shock you”

Well, the statistics did not shock me. They didn't even surprise me.

The original article and link to the original is below this blog.

You can read the statistics for yourself and yes, they are not good. They also don't paint an accurate picture of the scale of the problem. I know this because I work with and around violence every day. I have worked in schools ranging from low decile to decile 10. And this problem is a serious one. Of course we could look at the all of the underlying factors here, the issues that cause the violence which is now more and more frequently involving weapons, but I have commented, discussed and written about this before so I want to keep this to the specific subject of weapons in schools.

Last year I was working with a group of year 12 boys in a decile 10 school. The subject of knives came up and I asked them “how many people in here know someone at this school who has bought a knife to school, either yourself or someone else, recently?” There were 27 students in the class, eight raised their hand.

I asked them why they thought “these people” (I knew I was talking directly to some of them) bought weapons to school. The most common answer was ‘Self Defence’. Other answers included “to look tough”, “because they’re marked” etc…

This prompted me to have a very frank and blunt discussion with them about what they ‘thought’ constituted self defence and where knives fall into that equation, the true consequences of the action of carrying a weapon (legal, moral, ethical, emotional, financial, scholarly, career, family), and a look at the real risks associated with this practise vs the perceived gains. The discussion had a profound effect on them with a unanimous agreement that it was a very bad idea. I have worked with students long enough to know when they are saying something simply to placate me and when they genuinely ‘get it’, and this was a situation where they genuinely ‘got it’.

Several of the students made comments along the lines of “nobody has ever made me think of it like that before”, "You (meaning them) just do it because others do it but no-one really makes you think about what could happen” etc…

The HOD for the school, who was sitting in attendance for the session made the comment to me afterwards that this was so valuable because I was able to have a discussion with the kids “that the teachers can’t have and that they don’t get at home from dad”. It had a huge impact on this group and has on several other’s since, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

One such talk resulted in a student approaching me after the session and handing me a makeshift knife. He told me “Thank you sir, I won’t need this anymore” . That is a big impact.

The issues of teachers being able to search students is one thing, but how about fixing the underlying issues? What our organisation does is only a piece of that puzzle I know, and many schools are doing their best to work on many of the issues, but what we can do is make the kids understand the real consequences. We are in a very unique position to be able to do that. And if they no longer want or feel they need to carry knives or other weapons a big part of the issue is fixed right there. Will we get through to all of them and have them all never carry weapons again? No, of course not. But we can make a huge dent in the numbers who do.

The schools who work with us are progressive and are in many ways pioneers in addressing this issue and the other relevant issues facing their students’ safety. Some others are just plain apathetic and operating in a realm of absolute denial. This issue is real, it is obvious, the signs are there if they care to look, yet when one of their students or teachers is stabbed (again), you can guarantee we’ll hear the same old tune of “there was nothing we could do to prevent it”, or “it came out of the blue” . I am tired of hearing these things. There is plenty that can be done to prevent it and NONE of these incidents (not one) has happened “out of the blue”. Anyone who wishes to debate with me on that, I welcome it.

Anyway, this blog is just me sharing a couple of my many thoughts on this issue but at the end of the day it will be read by those who already know that what we are doing is making massive differences, and is unlikely to be read or taken seriously by anyone in the school system who will take any action. I hope I am wrong about that, I genuinely do, but I doubt that I am.

To end on a brighter note, we recently ran another women’s personal safety course at a decile 10 Auckland College and the results were absolutely outstanding. The feedback has been overwhelming from the staff and the students alike and the difference in the students’ confidence and overall empowerment was incredible. So there are schools who really are making a great difference and it is always an honour to work with them.

Original article here:


Armed in the classroom
By Chloe Johnson 5:30 AM Sunday Oct 9, 2011

Teachers are trying to fathom why an increasing number of kids, some as young as 5, bring weapons to school.

Expand Teachers are allowed to search children for weapons and drugs, but many are nervous of doing this one-on-one. Photo / Janna DixonChildren as young as 5 are among the alarming number of pupils who have been suspended or stood down for having weapons at school.

Figures the Herald on Sunday obtained through the Official Information Act show more than 1000 students have been removed from schools for possessing or using a weapon in the past two years.

At least 700 cases involved knives, blades, hammers, scissors and guns, including replicas.

In one case, a 5-year-old boy was stood down for five days for violent behaviour - brandish-ing a weapon - at teachers and students in the classroom. The type of weapon used has not been disclosed.

Ministry of Education curriculum and performance manager Jeremy Wood refused to name the school to protect the child's identity. However, he said the boy was removed from class after the incident in 2009 and received support from special education services for more than a year.

"He has not received any further stand-downs or suspensions, and no further support is currently needed," Wood said.

Educational psychologist Fiona Ayers said it was a huge concern the boy had become violent at such a young age.

"That's scary. What is going on in that kid's life that makes him feel he is so unsafe he has to carry a weapon?"

She said there were several reasons children carried weapons: protection from bullies, issues at home, influence from television or video games and simply thinking it was "cool" to have weapons.

"It's more the impulsive ones doing it. I have heard of kids who have left school and gone home then come back with weapons because they are upset. They are the ones more likely to use them."

Unskilled parents were a large part of the problem because children were copycats.

'Some of them, we do have to look at the culture of the environment they are in ... if family or uncles or people in the neighbourhood are doing that sort of thing then it might be one option for the child."

Te Puke High School maths teacher Steve Hose, 53, was stabbed in the neck and shoulder four times last year by a 13-year-old student from a dysfunctional family. The student took his own life about three months ago.

Hose said he ran to the front of the classroom after being stabbed and felt the blood dripping down his body. "I yelled at the kids, 'Get out'. I just needed them out of the way," Hose said. He looked in the "wide focused eyes" of his attacker and said, 'Are you sure you want to do this, mate?'. He looked at me dead in eyes and said, 'Yes'."

Education Minister Anne Tolley introduced new guidelines this year for teachers to search students for drugs and weapons which Hose supported. "But you need to get a senior team to direct the proceedings. One-on-one is a bad idea."

FAVOURITE WEAPONS

* Knife: 450

* Gun, including toy: 219

* Scissors: 36

* Blade: 12

* Hammer: 11

Total suspensions and stand downs between 2008 and 2010 for weapons-related incidents:
* Primary (Yr 1-8), 409;
* Secondary (Yr 9-15), 609;
* Composite (Yr 1-15), 49 (2008-2010)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Protect Team Member's Perspective...

The below blog was written by Brendan McGrath, a senior team member at Protect's Auckland group classes.

Hi there,

I’ve been one of Phil’s students over the past three years (time flies when your having fun;-). So before we kick off just a quick note to say that these views are not strictly those of Protect Self Defence.



I read something in the paper recently, a 74 year old man kicked to death in an alleyway on his way home by three young men, …… fingers crossed there is something valuable here! We really are trying to change ourselves, our friends, and the world!!!

Some stories are great promotional ammunition for the RBSD movement, a martial arts expert beaten up, mugged or worse, dying because they got in a scrap over a shoulder barge, a drunken brawl outside a pub, mugged at an ATM. Sure, true “self defence” can easily help us to control our environment either thru de-escalation or if need be, ultimately thru physical means. So yes, RBSD has plenty of “Look we told you so” moment’s in the media to draw support from, but that’s just too easy, it’s a narrow perspective.

Some stories that are reported are so sad it’s hard to see how we can take something positive from them, some are simply tragic. Some make you wonder how anything we teach would have really helped.

This old bloke on his way home perhaps to his old dear wife, perhaps from visiting his children, he could have been my late grandfather could have been anyone’s granddad or elderly neighbour. A tragic way to mark the end to a life which if he was like my late granddad was filled with generosity and love.

Self-defence is usually a hopeful and empowering message. But there is something about 3 young men beating a 74 year old man to death in an alleyway that is really upsetting and disturbing, it makes me fear for my little boy. That no matter how much I can teach him that at some point perhaps when he’s 70 that this could happen to him, or my dear old mum who goes for walks on the beach with her dog, how can I do anything to protect her?

In fact this event is tragic for those three young men also, their lives are ruined, they may not appreciate it right now as they sit in jail in some ways riding high on the kudos of killing a man, but ruined lives nonetheless.

There needs to be a fuller solution, teaching people kung fu at some point simply becomes bogus and absurd.




I have a secret, a long time ago, almost 20 years ago now as a young man, in a disturbed moment as a very angry kid I swung a piece of rough sawn wood into the side of a woman’s head.

It’s a long story, but in that moment I could have killed her, I wouldn’t have really meant to but it could have happened. I would not be sitting here enjoying my wonderful life, and her children would not be enjoying their loving mother.

It was just dumb luck I didn’t kill her. In the moment that I attacked her, in that moment, I never gave her a name, never understood that her children need her, like mine need me.

Sometimes I find it all rather hard to reconcile how well life has turned out, but it has certainly been on the good graces of firstly a judge, family, friends, and ultimately society. I’m very thankful for that, and that translates to actions not just words, if I spot you out there in trouble I will stop. I physically can’t just drive by; my stomach starts to twist up inside me. I’ve grown up a lot in 20 years forgotten a lot, but the moment I walked into protect the message resonated with me. I have found a lot of redemption in my time at protect, its cathartic.

Something that has stood out for me at Protect, “lets see if we can ALL walk away from this situation unharmed, we are all someone’s child, brother, sister, mother, father, even the arsehole that’s just called you every name under the sun” that fundamentally we care. This is not a soft line on self defence, but a first line. We also have a very hard line for those that would persist and seek to take us from our family, our friends.

At the core of this what I am getting at here is that we avoid violence because we care, we defuse because we care both about ourselves and the instigator of violence and their families, and ultimately we protect ourselves because we care about ourselves and our loved ones.

There is one take out message here, it is NOT about how the principles that “Protect” teach can protect us physically. The message is about how we who believe in the anti violence principles that “Protect” teaches can thru educating our children and those around us to not use violence, in the long term make a safer world, one with more respect and care. In this way our message benefits not only those who come to classes, to seminars, to courses, but it benefits all of our society.

This is the message that can protect my children, my loved ones and people I will never meet, people that have never heard of protect can be safer because of this message.
Some bloke who rants at me from his car, and I apologise and move along… his kids owe an unknowing debt to my learning’s from protect, today their dad wont be in hospital because I put him there or in prison because he’s beaten me to a pulp.

And that view, that aspiration, that higher thinking is not common in self defence. Our aspiration is to affect even those that have never heard of “Protect”. To actually make the world a bit safer for all. In truth a self defence course may not have helped that 74 year old man, we will never know. And the offenders well perhaps it’s doubtful for them also. But consider that we are actually trying to teach people to understand and avoid the terrible cost of violence.

If the offenders parents, older sisters, etc had attended a course…. What we are really seeking is to increase the numbers of people in the population who do not resort to violence as a first base for conflict resolution. It might seem like an impossible task to effect change like that, we cannot afford to let that deter us …………


Heres the story that prompted me to write to you all..

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10755600

Daughters account

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10755787

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Martial Artists: A dangerous blow

This article is specifically for the martial artists whom read this blog as I received an email from someone (martial artist) who I think could really benefit from this.

A while ago a guy named Jase (not his real name) enquired about joining our group classes which we hold for the public. Everyone who requests to join us has an informal ‘interview’, really just a chat, so that we can evaluate their intentions and make sure that we can provide what they are looking for and also to ensure that they are a good fit for the class (we have a ‘no-egg’ policy). Because so many people believe ‘self defence’ is about fighting it’s important that we let them know that is not what we do, and if we can we’ll point them to a club or school that can help them.

Jase seemed like (and is) a nice guy but there was also some intuition that told me he was troubled and in a bad emotional place. To cut the story short after a chat it transpired that Jase, who is a black belt in karate and has also trained in Muay Thai and BJJ, had two months earlier been beaten up pretty bad. Physically he was not too injured (broken nose, broken ribs, so still a bad day) but psychologically he was beaten up very bad. His words to me were “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that”. I asked him how it was “supposed to happen” and he told me “Well, you know, like I was taught”.

His whole situation was avoidable at multiple different points before it escalated to violence. It was also (probably) fairly easily defused. That is if he had any training in either concept, which of course he did not. So being left with only a physical response as his go-to option he expected the physical aspect of the ‘fight’ to look like it did at his training. But that was obviously not the case and Jase had to learn the hard way about how real violence unfolds. Later on in the evening Jase was watching some of our team doing scenario training and I saw him look at me and shake his head as if in disbelief. I asked him what was wrong and he said that everything that was unfolding before his eyes in that scenario was just like his situation except our team were getting a very different result obviously. He said that if he had come here three months ago this would not have happened to him. Sadly that is true but too late to change. Jase had formed a new, disempowering identity for himself. I explained that although past performance is a good indicator of future performance, if changes are made history does not have to repeat itself. The past does not need to equal the future, but changes need to be made.

The two months of beating himself up over the event had done as much damage as the event itself due to his lack of understanding of how real violence happens. Prior to the event he had a perception of how thing “should” happen based on his experience with martial arts and sport fighting, but this is very rarely ever the case (almost never in fact). So for two months he had been blaming himself, attributing the outcome to his own inadequacies, which is just so wrong and unfair to him.

After a debriefing session, where we anatomised the event and helped it make sense for him in real terms he was able to see that it was not his own inadequacies (mostly), it was an issue with his training. He thought (because he had been told) that he was learning ‘self defence’, whereas in actual fact he had been learning an art on one side, and a sport on the other. Both of which have very little to do with dealing with real aggression or violence. This debriefing also helped him to understand that he needed to talk with a councellor about the event (he was showing signs of PTSD so a professional was required to help him work through this). So often, for males, society has an expectation that they can be exposed to serious violence and just ‘carry on’ and ‘deal with it’. Often this is possible especially if the person has some degree of understanding or experience with real violence, but just as often, it is not. There are things that normal citizens are just not supposed to experience or have to ‘deal with’ and getting through these things often takes a bit of help. There is nothing ‘soft’ or unmanly about getting help but that is unfortunately often a stereotype that men must face. The fact is that violence affects everyone who is exposed to it. It affects different people to different degrees, but even the toughest among us (I have trained some elite units and even they often require support after certain incidents) can still be affected, that is part of being human.

What I have found is that people who consider themselves to be ‘fighters’ or proficient martial artists often suffer enormous damage to their self esteem and confidence after they suffer a beating, even more so than the average person. Often their training is their absolute passion, one of the main focuses in their life and much of their identity is linked to their perceived proficiency (or rank, or position, or titles etc) in that art or sport. So when they are attacked and in their mind “lose” the fight or fail to protect someone else it can be very tough to deal with.

By understanding how things really happen though, and then being able to make a very clear distinction about whether their training is in actual fact sports oriented, art oriented, or self defence oriented, they can make sense of things and make the necessary adjustments. If the sole reason they joined their martial art was for self defence, they may realise they need to change or add something else to it. If they joined because they love the art or the sports side of things, then that is great, they will see that it is a sport which is fun, enjoyable, challenging, demanding etc but not a self defence system so their expectations of its street proficiency will change and be more realistic.

Side note: As part of the interview with “Jase” I intuitively determined that his motivations were not as clear cut as he had made out. A few direct questions revealed that another part of his motivation for wanting to learn from us was (sub consciously) to have another chance to ‘prove himself’ and recover his damaged self esteem. He didn’t even realise he was doing it but I have seen this several times before. It is quite common to fall into a retaliation mode after taking a beating and want to (either consciously or sub-consciously) put yourself into another situation to prove yourself. Once he was aware that process was present, it was relatively easy to dissipate and give him a new focus which would actually serve him and be helpful rather than destructive.

I hope this article stirs something in you and may help you ask yourself and/or your instructor some relevant and important questions about your training. If nothing more, just knowing which “box” your training falls into can help you reduce the chances of going through a situation like Jase, and thousands of others have gone through.

If you are a martial artist/sport fighter and you want to see how your training relates to real life encounters (as well as learn some cool new skills) check out the Combat Coalition Boot Camp in Auckland in November. If you are out of town...Travel. It will be worth it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What were the signs?

Excellent short article by Darcy:


What were the signs?

Recently I had a young business woman in her mid-twenties ask me for advice so she would not again find herself in the situation she recently found herself in.

Rachel shared her story with me: I was at a party, and he must saw me there, but I didn’t meet him. When I arrived home that evening, he’d left three messages on my phone asking me out. I wasn’t so sure but decided to go out with him – he sounded nice, but I didn’t know what he looked like. Our first date was ok, but he did joke about getting married and having kids. On our second date, he mentioned getting married and having kids again and sounded almost serious. On the third date he gave me an iPhone!! I loved it. He did flip out one day when he found out that I had an ex-boyfriends number in it and he made me delete it out in front of him. He then “suggested” who I should have in the phone. He would call me all the time too, asking me what I was doing – and if he wasn’t phoning me, he’d just turn up announced at my apartment. He talked about us being together forever, soul mates. I wanted to dump him and I tried, but he’d cry and talk about killing himself. That I’d find no one better. He’s met someone else now, but while we were together, for months I just couldn’t breathe. I lost friends and I cried so often. I doubted myself. Darcy, I need to know what the signs are so I don’t meet someone like him again.

Rachel, those are the signs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Auckland Charity Event: 'Women's Personal Safety' Seminar

Hi all Auckland-ites!
We have just confirmed something very cool...We are running a charity event raising money for RPE (Rape Crises) on October 26th! It is a two hour Women's Personal Safety seminar and get THIS...It is only $25 (will be donated to RPE)!
This will be very cool information, supporting a great organisation who do a brilliant job and need our help. SOOOOO...Please help us to support... this event. How? Firstly, if you are a female, book for the event now and get all of your friends and family there too, and secondly please forward this to every female you know and help us spread the word. We really appreciate it and guarantee the event will be worth your time, it will be cool. (BTW, there is no physical involvement at this one, it is a presentation of very cool stuff which will empower you, so just sit back and relax). See you there! Athena and Phil
For full details click HERE

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Seriously...What?

Ok, Prepare yourselves for one of my rants... :-)

There is a lot of junk 'self defence' taught out there, nobody reading this will find that to be new information. Some of it is plain comical and some of it is downright dangerous. After doing this job for so long I normally don't let it get to me when I see this stuff, I just focus on the good things I see and learn from them and aim to ignore the 'not helpful' stuff. But apparently today I must be experiencing a moment of weakness because I let what I just saw frustrate me.

I (and all of our instructors) tell every single person we train to feel free to challenge us on absolutely anything at all, and if they don't agree with us to let us know. There are no sacred cows with what we do, if we can't back up what we are teaching, really back it up, then we should not be teaching it. It is potentially people's lives at stake.

So when a mate of mine forwarded me a link of one of the 'top' self defense instructors in the USA teaching women's self defence (women's self defence is like the centre of the universe for bad advice in most cases) I expected to see quality information. A few things he said were smart and sound, and then I saw what he is teaching women to do against a potential rape...Drop onto the floor from a standing position and kick him. I kid you not. I thought about posting the link up but I think that is unprofessional so I have decided not to and this blog is more about the general problem of blindly following what we are told than this specific isolated (but not uncommon) instance.

What worried me more than the absolute rubbish advice, was that the willing group of participants seemed to be hanging on his every word and NO-ONE challenged him. No-one had a flash of common sense (or if they did they did not bring it up) and consider the real possible consequences of just this one piece of bad advice (there was more but I'll stay with this one as an example).

Drop on the ground voluntarily? Seriously? Come on, give me a break.

Yes, there are always exceptions to every rule, and yes the situation always dictates the response so there may be a time when dropping to the floor is the best option, but those times are few and far between, and to have it as the primary (or only, as in this case) option is more than just ludicrous, it is dangerous.

If I go into all of reasons why this advice is so bad I'll be writing all day, but just a couple of reasons, pre-assuming all of the behavioural, psychological, pre-contact stages have failed or were never available and a physical response is the only option, why would going to the floor on purpose for a physical response be a very dangerous thing to do?

1) That is where he probably wants you anyway. You just helped him achieve his purpose. It also gives him a physical and psychological advantage (at least in his mind).
2) You eliminate or greatly reduce your escape options. How are you supposed to get out of here, to run, to escape now? Do you really think that your kicking him in the legs, on its own, is likely to incapacitate him enough for you to stand and escape. Possible, yes. Probable, no.
3) You are now as far away as possible from the primary targets, you also reduce the grounding, distancing and torque available to you while standing if you are able to achieve a stunning strike/s to enable you to escape.
4) Your access to natural (improvised) weapons is greatly reduced.
5) His ability to stomp and kick you is maximised and the danger to you in that sense is extreme (worse still if multiple attackers). We teach to kick out at the opponent (among other things) if you are forced to the floor (thrown down, tripped, started there etc) but as a means to get back to your feet immediately! We don't want to go there volunarily to start with!
6) Try doing that on concrete by the way. Sure in reality you may have to if you end up there, but rolling around on gravel etc is not fun, it makes a mess. Environment plays a huge role.
7) Your access to your available 'tools' is now massively reduced, and his increases. This is potentially loading the dice in HIS favour and putting yourself in a real bad spot.

These are just a few of the reasons this advice is not good, there are more.

But what I want to stress is that if someone teaches you something about self defence, and they are doing it from the perspective of 'this is what you do in reality' as opposed to learning martial arts self defence etc, then think logically, ask questions, and challenge them. It is your life on the line. It is not a game. There is no way this instructor could back this up if any of our students or instructors had a debate with him on it, it would fail. It doesn't make friggin sense.

Rant over. I'll do my best to ignore the rubbish that is out there again, but just occasionally, like today, it gets to me.






Tuesday, August 9, 2011

'Child Power' Article: The Aucklander


'Child Power' Article: The Aucklander, August 4 2011

'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' available in most bookstores or from Amazon.com by clicking HERE














Sunday, July 31, 2011

Workplace 'Bully' loses his advantage...

At Protect we don't use the term 'bullying' for any situations involving anyone older than around 10 years. After that age we call it what it really is: 'Peer Aggression'. By giving the issue the mantle that it deserves people tend to take the issue more seriously, and it is a serious issue. It causes loss of confidence, self esteem, and self belief, it has caused suicides, murders, assaults, and substance abuse, broken up families and ruined countless people's lives. It is not an issue that should be tolerated, either at school, the workplace or in any other facet of life.

Yesterday I received an email from a man who attended one of our recent 'Best Defence (phase 1)' courses, I'll call him Joe, which is not his real name. He explained how he had been the target of a 'workplace bully' for the past year. He had bought the issue up to management only to have it 'played down' and to a large degree, dismissed. It has caused him huge stress and affected his home life and his health. He told me that he has been looking for another job unsuccessfully, and that the sole reason for him wanting to leave his employer of six years (at a job that he otherwise loves) was because of this person.

At 'Best Defence' (as with all of our core courses) we address the behvioural and psychological aspects of self defence as well as the physical. Because of the way we train attendees there is an immediate shift in belief systems, resulting in greater confidence and a feeling of personal empowerment. This is the basis of effective self defence.

Jow explained that the course had such a deep impact on him that he walked into his office on Monday morning a different person, different to the person who left on Friday night. He took immedite action on the issue of his tormentor. He had a meeting with his boss where he confidently explained what was happening and what the options were for them. His boss has now taken the matter seriously and is standing behind Joe with the support and action required.

He then met with the man who has been causing the issues. Joe told me that he would NEVER have been able to have the conversation, with the degree of confidence and certainty, prior to the course. He addressed the issue in a non-challenging, non-threatening way, but with a confidence and focus that left his prior aggressor under no illusions of his options. He also did it in such a way as to let the man save face and have a 'way out' (which we teach), and the man took it. He has gained an apology and the past week has been a different experience for him when he arrives at work. In his words: " The weight is off my shoulders and I am actually enjoying going to work again"

How did this take place? Because self defence (real Self Defence) training empowers you with a confidence and belief system which all on it's own makes you a 'hard target' for aggressor's, it grows you as a person from your core.

Emerson once said: "Who you are screams so loudly in my ears that I can not hear what you are saying"

Joe told me that he originally attended our course (thinking like most people that self defence is all about martial arts and/or solely physical moves, which it is not) to learn to physically protect himself becasue he expected the situation to get so bad that he would be assaulted physically. He said that what he gained was infinitely more, it made him a strong person, with the confidence to stand up for himself and the skills to do it in a way which made the situation better and not worse.

I acknowledge Joe for realising the need to imporove his situation, for attending the course, for taking the action, and for sharing his story with me.

This is what self defence at Protect is all about.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Impulse...

Some kids tag a man's fence, he sees them and chases them down the road with a kitchen knife. A fight ensues and he stabs one of them. The kid dies, the man is sent to prison. Many lives are destroyed. Why didn't he get descriptions and call the police?

A man is walking with his girlfriend when they are mugged at gunpoint for her purse. Because he is a martial arts black belt he tries to physically engage the mugger and is shot dead. Why didn't they just hand over the purse?

A champion kickboxer is training when he sees someone back into his car and drive off. He chases the car down the road and tries to drag the guy out of the car when it stops at an intersection. The guys pulls a weapon and kills the kickboxer. Why didn't he just get the car's licence plate and call the Police?

A man is in his kitchen when he sees a couple of youths kick his letterbox over. He chases them down the street and catches them. One of them picks up a rock and hits him on the head and in the face repeatedly with it. He is left with severe brain damage. Why didn't he just call the Police?

And then this today:

http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/9775930/melbourne-woman-dies-in-stabbing/

Youths threw eggs at their house. So they chased them, and now the lady is dead. Why didn't they just call the Police?

I have literally dozens of real stories, like the ones above that illustrate this point. Now I know it's easy to say what they 'could have done' when no-one can say for sure what should/could/would have happened unless they were actually there, but these are straight forward enough to illustrate a point.

That point is that when people have not had any decent self defence training, they are often unable to see the context of situations when they perceive threat or are at the mercy of fear and/or anger, and often act on impulse...Often with disasterous counsequesnces. Our courses prepare peoople to deal with the behavioual and psychological aspects of these situations so that these tragic outcomes can be avoided. This is real self defence, applicable to anyone, in any area, at any age...

Schoolgirl attack warning

This article appeared in the Herald On Sunday (3/7/11, italics are mine, see below the article for my comments):

A 17-year-old girl attacked by a sexual predator while walking home from school is warning other students about the dangers of wearing iPods.

The teen is one of two St Mary's College, Auckland, students grabbed by strangers while walking to and from school. The second was barely a week ago.

Both were listening to iPods via earpieces at the time and did not hear the men behind them.

The 17-year-old, who did not want to be identified, warned others to turn down the volume on iPods or to wear only one earpiece so they were alerted to potential danger.

"It's something nobody ever talks about. People from age 12 to my age think they're invincible," she said.

In March the teen was on Hamilton Rd, five minutes from home, when a man came up behind her and "tried to grab me and drag me into a driveway", she said.

"I got such a fright. I screamed and shoved him and told him to f*** off."

The man - whom she described as stocky and of Pacific Island or Filipino origin in his 20s - then took off.

On June 23, a 12-year-old girl from the same school fought off a man's advances with a kick to the groin.

She was walking along Douglas St in Ponsonby when the man came up behind her, made lewd suggestions and grabbed her arm.

Police described the man as in his 40s with long silver or grey hair and with an orange hue to his skin.

St Mary's College principal Sandy Pasley said students and parents needed to be aware of the dangers of wearing iPods, especially when walking alone.

Following the second incident, she sent a newsletter to parents warning them about the dangers and encouraged students to walk in groups if possible.


Both of the girls in these recent attacks did very well once they were confronted. Awesome in fact!

The reason this article bothered me though was this statement:

The 17-year-old, who did not want to be identified, warned others to turn down the volume on iPods or to wear only one earpiece so they were alerted to potential danger.

"It's something nobody ever talks about. People from age 12 to my age think they're invincible," she said.

Why did this bother me? Because I am saddened that this attack could potentially have been avoided if their situational awareness had not been restricted due to the ipod's blaring in their ears. And the fact is WE DO TALK ABOUT THIS! A LOT! It is a part of the safety discussions we do at every school we work with, and many other courses too. We have writtern articles about it, commented on the issue for media and many others. And not just Ipods, but drink spiking, texting, technology safety, taxi safety, getting followed, and many other safety strategies which make up just a part of the 'recognition and awareness' phase of our school courses.

The problem is that not enough schools are taking the proactive action to get us in there to teach their kids to be safe. And that bothers me. So many times girls have been attacked, sometimes with horrendous consequences, and the opinion of many is "It's terrible, but there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent it". And that is pure apathy, and is completely ignorant. Most of these situations can be avoided (not all, but most) and that is what we teach people to do. So to hear a 17 year old girl say that nobody ever talks about this stuff, after she has been put through a terrifying situation that could have been avoided is really sad to me.

We are here for any school who needs us, but they have to take the action to get us there. I really hope this changes soon, there are many attacks such as this one, and date rapes, acquaintance rapes, stranger rapes, sexual assaults, drug rapes, and many other situations (1 in 4 kiwi girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 16) which we can help avoid with the school's help.

If you have children at school, please send them our details and insist that they run one of our safety programs for their kids. These are life skills which are no longer a 'nice-to-have', they are a necessity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Online Safety for Kids Series Part 3

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

3)Ensure that all Security Software is Installed and Up To Date.

A computer without adequate, updated virus protection software is exposed to multiple risks including Malware (malicious software including viruses, spyware, trojan horses, adware, and spam), Identity theft, Spoofing, Phishing, and Keystroke loggers. It is vital that you have adequate software installed and that it is kept updated to protect your kids and yourself from these threats.

For younger children (pre-teen) you may also choose to register with a child specific ISP (Internet Service Provider). These ISP’s function as your child’s home page browser and only allow children to surf areas of the internet that are approved for children of specific ages. There are several of these browsers available. Two of them are www.razzul.com and www.kidwideweb.net

A question of choice...

I was working with a group of young students this week and one of them, who was really genuinely concerned, asked me a question:


"I'm going to a party on Friday. There are going to be a bunch of guys there who always start fights, they carry knives and one of them stabbed a guy at a party last year and is a real psycho. Everyone knows they are going to start something on Friday, 'cause some of the other guys who are going to be there had a fight with them before. What can I do to protect myself?".


Of course he was looking for some magic move or tactic.


From there the conversation went something like this:


Me: "Mate, I can give you a strategy will will absolutely GUARANTEE that you won't be stabbed or bashed at the party, 100%, sound good?"


Him: "Yeah, cool. That's what I need"


His mate: "Yeah, Can you show me too?"


Me: "Of course, I'm happy to"


His mate: "Awesome'


Me: "Don't go to the party."


Them both: "Oh, aye?"


Me: "Use your heads fella's. This is self defence 101. You know there is a high liklihood of trouble, you are worried that you may be bashed or stabbed. You almost know for sure that shit is going to go down there...So why would you go? Seriously guys, find another party"


Him: "Oh, yeah, I s'pose"


Me: "That's the best advice I can give you guys. You asked me, and I'm telling you. Don't go, it's not worth it."


Them: "Yeah, true aye, we didn't really look at it that way. Yeah, that's cool"


I hope like hell that they listened. Sometimes people just need to hear the obvious. Stage 1 of what we teach: Avoidance through awareness and recognition.


Just thought I'd share it anyway...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Hero' could easily have become a martyr...

I have received several emails about this event: (Read the article and see my comments at the bottom)

Gun terror: 'I'll shoot her'
By Michael Dickison 5:30 AM Friday Jun 17, 2011

Link to original article HERE

A shopkeeper used a hockey stick to fend off an armed gunman who was holding a pistol to the head of a customer, the mother of "two beautiful, young children".

As the robber demanded cash from the till - "Give me money or I'll shoot her" - the dairy owner had other ideas.

Jayesh Amin, owner of the Farm Cove Superette in East Auckland, said he could think only of saving the woman, a regular customer who he knew had two children.

Mr Amin was preparing to close the shop at 7.45pm on Wednesday when his last customer approached the counter with a couple of icecreams.

At the same moment, a young hooded man ran in, grabbed the woman by the neck, shoved a pistol at her head and yelled: "Give me money or I'll shoot her."

For a couple of seconds, Mr Amin stood frozen. "I was shocked because it happened so fast. I didn't understand what was happening."

Another man came in with a metal bar and told the first offender: "Go ahead, bro, go ahead, bro. Shoot her, bro."

As the second man lunged across the counter, Mr Amin was too rattled to notice that a third robber had followed the others into the store.

Mr Amin took $600 from the till and held it up.

"I offered the money. I told them to leave the woman alone and take the money: 'Don't do anything silly - just leave the woman'."

But instead of reaching for the money, the three young men yelled further threats at the female customer.

"They should have come to me to take the money but they didn't," Mr Amin said.

"It was very hard to know what to do because I had shown them the money. My first priority was to save the woman. She was local and I knew she had two beautiful young children."

So Mr Amin reached behind the counter for a hockey stick he had there and swung wildly at the three men.

He struck one, then ran around the counter towards the man with the gun.

The three men scurried out the front door.

"I think they got a little scared," Mr Amin said.

Police were quickly on the scene - Mr Amin's wife saw the incident on a security camera monitor in their upstairs residence, and called 111.

Two teenagers have been arrested for the robbery and appeared in court yesterday. Two others - one the driver of a getaway car - are being sought.

Last night, Mr Amin said he was still shaking because of the ordeal.

"I'm so tired. I couldn't sleep all night," he said. "From yesterday morning at seven, I haven't slept. I was so scared."

The drama did not end with the robbers running out the door.

Mr Amin chased them outside and called for help. The owner and chef from the next-door restaurant came to his aid.

The three robbers then ran to a car driven by a fourth man and sped away - only to be pursued by a member of the public.

The man chased the offenders until they stopped the car, got out and one pointed the gun at him.

As the man tried to flee, his rear windscreen shattered.

Police say they are exploring several possible reasons for the window breaking, and have not confirmed that it was caused by a gunshot.

The four offenders abandoned the car, and police later found an air pistol in it.

The two men arrested are aged 17 and 18 and appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday on charges of assault with intent to rob, threatening to kill and commission of a crime with a firearm. Further charges may follow.

Police said that the store owner and the customer escaped serious injury but had been extremely shaken by events and were being counselled by Victim Support.

Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander said criminal investigation branch staff had examined the premises and were following "very positive" leads regarding the identity of the two missing suspects.

By Michael Dickison


When I first heard this story I was told that a man had pointed a gun at the dairy owner and instead of handing over cash he had attacked the offender with a hockey stick and chased him out of the store. At that point he was being hailed a hero. Based on that limited information, I thought it was another case of a 'hero' who could have easily become a martyr. This is NOT the right course of action to take in armed hold up situations in most cases, the best option is compliance.

But then I looked into this further and the above article shed different light on the situation. Mr Amin did comply and offer money, but the offender did not take it and instead began to escalate his level of violence towards the woman who was at that stage being used as a hostage. That changes thinigs, and like it or not, unless you were actually there in that situation, none of us can say what was right and what was wrong. At the end of the day, what Mr Amin chose to do worked. Could he have taken other options, possibly, yes, but what he did was successful and I agree that he should be acknowledged for his actions.

What worries me is that many are hailing his actions as the way everyone should deal with these situations, and that is wrong. Black and white. Mr Amin's situation should not be considered typical. Confronting armed robbers in most cases is not a good thing. Bluntly, it may get you killed. In Mr Amin's unique situation, I applaude him for doing what he believed to be right in the moment, and acting in spite of his fear in defence of another person, and his actions worked. But his situation is not ALL situations, and therefore I am worried to hear the attitude of many that this response should be applied to ALL situations, as it most definitely should not.

My advice is to get some training around Armed Holdup Safety. Protect's half day course is excellent and provides people with realistic skills and options to deal with the majority of situations. Training can obviously help prepare people to deal with a situation in the best possible way, and also to control impulsive behaviour which could place you in danger, such as chasing the offenders car down the road, forcing them to stop, get out, and point the gun at the person. This could have had disatrous conssequesces. Our course teaches how to reduce the chances of an armed hold up, how to best manage during one, and how to manage the scene directly afterwards too. All three of these aspects are vital to understand, are highly valuable as a life skill, and believe it or not are actually interesting and even 'fun' to learn.

Remember, you don't need to work in a job where armed hold up is possible/probable to be involved in one. You may be a customer in a bank, service station, dairy, liqour store, bar, or anywhere that has cash or merchandise. So these skills are important to know.

My main point here is that Mr Amin did very well given the options and training he had available to him, and good on him for that. Please do not look at this situation though and think it is typical and that Mr Amin's response should be generically applied, as that is not (by a long shot) the best option.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Online Safety For Kids Series - Part 2

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

2) Openly Communicate and Participate

The more that you participate and communicate with your child about their online activities, without seeming meddlesome, the more you will be able to understand what they get up to and how safe they are being.

One of the best ways to do this is to let them show you, and teach you, things on the internet. Be open to learning new things from them and ask relevant (sometimes ‘loaded’) questions as you go. For example: “Thanks for showing me how the chat room works, can you please tell me how to make sure that no-one can view my personal information? Also, what are the best strategies that you use to avoid contact with predators online?” Questions like this allow you to gauge their level of understanding and competence in this area, and if it is good, you can reinforce it with praise. If it is clearly lacking you can give them guidance and help them set new boundaries.

It is also important that you understand chat and SMS text lingo. It can seem like a completely different language and it is important that you at least understand the basics of it to know what is being said.
Examples of just a few of the commonly used chat acronyms are:

A/S/L = Age/Sex/Location

CD9 or just 9 = Parents are around/watching

CTN = Can’t talk now

LMIRL = Lets meet in real life

ILU = I love you

IWSN = I want sex now

F2F = Face to face

GNOC = Get naked on cam

HAK = Hugs and kisses

KPC = Keeping parents clueless

TDTM = Talk dirty to me

PAL = Parents are listening

PAW = Parents are watching

WTF = What the f**k

WYRN = What’s your real name?

These are just a few of the relevant ones, so you can see that without any knowledge of chat lingo your kids could very well keep you in the ‘KPC’ category.

An excellent website that has been set up to help you decipher and understand chat lingo is www.netlingo.com. They even have an ‘Acronyms for parents’ section with the top chat acronyms that parents need to know.

3) To be continued in the next blog...

Wellington Charity Event: Women's Safety Seminar

Darcy Mellsop doing some awesome stuff in Wellington again! If you are in the Hutt Valley (or anywhere in Wellington, it'll be worth the travel!) be sure to get along to this information event, which is raising money for Wellington woman's refuge, organised by Anna Nankivell from Remax Lower Hutt. What a great community initiative, this will be excellent! Get there if you can! :-) Phil

Monday, June 6, 2011

Online Safety For Kids Series - Part 1

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

Most kids regularly use the internet to safely interact with hundreds of people (who they either know or don’t know) through social network and gaming sites. The threat of online sexual predators may not be as prolific as the media will have us believe but it is certainly a genuine threat. Some sexual predators spend a great deal of time searching the internet for potential victims whom they can groom, so it is vital that kids know the risks of various activities, and how to stay safe from them.

To be able to successfully guide children to stay safe and be responsible on the internet it is important that the issues are openly communicated between you and your kids. What you perceive to be issues and what your kids perceive to be issues may be worlds apart, so it is important to bridge the gap to ensure that your kids ‘buy in’ to the rules. You can be sure that if kids don’t understand the reasons behind the internet safety rules, and if they think their parent is out of touch and doesn’t understand how things really work on the internet (a commonly held, and sometimes accurate belief among a lot of kids), they will find a way to circumvent the rules. If they fully understand the actual risks, not the over exaggerated ones, and have the strategies to deal with them, then they will follow the rules in any environment whether supervised or unsupervised. Remember, most kids have access to the internet from multiple different sources including home, school, work, internet cafe, friend’s houses, their cellphone/PDA, their friend’s cellphone/PDA etc, so it is unrealistic to think that you are going to be able to supervise all of their internet activity. That is why it is so important to work with your kids on this, not simply apply hard and fast rules which they resent or don’t understand. If you do take that position, as soon as they have the chance, and that will be often, they will ignore the rules (maybe even act in spite of them, which is even more dangerous) and be open to potential victimisation.

Before we look at the greatest risks that kids face on the internet, and strategies to address them, there are a couple of key strategies that you as the parent can take to ensure your children’s responsible and safe use of the internet:

1) Set Boundaries and Supervise Their Activities

Depending on the age of the child, there is one highly effective and important strategy that you can implement to minimise the online risks to your kids. I advocate this strategy for all pre-teen children. It is very simply:

Do not allow the computer to be located in the child’s bedroom or other private place, move it into a public area of the house.

This will help with the immediate issue of supervision while you teach your child how to use the internet safely.

Set boundaries with your kids including time limits online, and rules around the sharing/displaying of any kind of personal information online, as discussed below, and supervise their compliance. Keep in mind though that your kids probably know more about the internet than you do. If they do not understand why the rules are in place, and how they keep them safe, they will find a way around them. For example:

• You can check the browsing history to see what sites they have been to, but most kids know how to delete these and their temporary internet files to prevent you from checking up on them

• You can monitor their emails, but many kids set up multiple accounts; one for you to see and another for their private use. Additionally they will delete sent and received emails (or IM conversation logs) that they don’t want you to see

• You can watch their social networking pages, but often times kids will set up multiple pages; one which they allow you to see and join as their ‘friend’, and another which they use to communicate with their friends etc

• You can check the saved file content on the computer but kids will often just save anything they don’t want you to see on a removable hard drive and/or rename files to non descript and covert names which don’t attract any attention to them

• You can password protect their access, but most kids will bypass this very quickly

These are just a few of the ways kids can hide what they are doing online. There are of course other options available to parents such as installing overt or covert tracking software, but that only addresses the home computer use, not all of the other access points that they have to the internet. In my opinion the most effective way to ensure children’s online safety and responsibility is to openly educate and guide them, and let them be involved in the boundary setting (aka ‘rule setting’) process. If they feel that they helped make the rules, because they understand the risks, they will be more likely to always follow them wherever they are. Use the Online Safety Agreement in Appendix Four as a guide to set and agree on the boundaries.

2) To be continued in the next blog...