AUSTINTOWN Class helps empower kids

The class teaches children how to escape if they're abducted.
AUSTINTOWN -- Turn on the television or open the newspaper and there's a good chance you'll see a story about an abduction. The stories tell of children forcefully taken from their homes, churches or families and later killed.
Don Harvey knows the stories, and he doesn't want to have to see the body of the next abduction victim when he goes to work.
"That's the last thing I want to do, is pick up a dead, abducted child," said Harvey, a removal coordinator for Wood-Kortright Funeral Home in Ravenna.
Harvey will be the instructor Tuesday for the Escape School program at Northeast Martial Arts and Cardio-Kickboxing Center on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown. The program teaches children how to escape of they are abducted.
Lessons learned
Children who take part in the hour-long program can learn how to disable cars, escape from car trunks, and physically assault abductors. The program also offers parents and children tips on how to prevent abductions.
About 120 children are expected to take part in Tuesday's program, which is free and open to children age 5 through 16. The Martial Arts center also is offering the program Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.
Cherie Setting, the owner of the Martial Arts center, stressed that she feels children also can learn self-confidence from the program.
"What this program does is teach them empowerment and strength," she said. "The No. 1 self-defense you have is your confidence level."
Wrong perception
Setting said she feels many children are taught that they won't be abducted if they stay near their parents. That can instill in children a fear of other adults that could paralyze them if abducted, she said.
Setting said she recently received a call from a parent who said her son watched a news program about abducted children and now is too scared to go outside. The parent hopes the program will help improve her child's confidence.
Escape School is national program that was founded seven years ago by Bob Stuber, a former police officer, and family friend of a missing child. Setting said she learned about the program from an e-mail she received in July from an organization of national black-belt schools.
She said she believes some owners of martial arts schools feel that they have an obligation to offer programs like Escape School that benefit the community.
"When you have talent or skill, you are responsible to use that talent and skill and pass it on," Setting said.

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