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Program teaches teens to avoid dangerous situations

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) – A new program put on in Columbus last week aims to try and help young women stay safe as they head to college or into the real world.

It’s called SAFE, or Situational Awareness for Every Day. The day-long program was put on at Columbus East High School last Wednesday with the help of several area police departments.

Officials say it’s all designed to make sure senior high school girls are equipped with the information they need, in whatever they do after graduation: whether that’s college, the military or a career.

“They’re finally going to be out and about in this world making their own choices. We want them to feel they not only have the education to do that, but the street smarts, and the know-how of how to make good choices socially,” said Julie Quesenbery, Columbus East High School resource officer.

The planning for the day started last year, when Indiana State Police Master Trooper Chris Clancy read a book called “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, in training he was going through.

Clancy says he wanted his daughter, who will be graduating in May, to read it. Then, he says he thought, “Why stop there?”

He and Quesenbery created a one-day program educating girls on street smarts, how to pick up on different signals, and how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Later in the day, the students learned several self-defense maneuvers, as well, but Quesenbery says that wasn’t the focus of the day.

“I hope they walk away from here feeling empowered, with everything (they) need to be successful and to stay safe. It’s more about avoiding the situation to begin with, than it is about teaching them to be ultimate fighters. We are going to have an afternoon sessions about that, but the larger portion is about helping them to avoid the situation altogether, things to look out for,” she said.

“It’s about preparing girls for life after high school, life away from home, life away from mom and dad, because, it’s a big responsibility to be safe. There are a lot of things they need to deal with, and a lot of things they need to be aware of. The better prepared they are, the better off they’re going to be,” said Chris Clancy, Indiana State Police Master Trooper.

Clancy said they’re hoping to expand the program to other schools in the future. If your school is interested, he’s hoping they will contact him.

Click here for some of the tips provided in the class.