Safety of students during the school day is a hot-button issue across the country, with reports of assaults and shootings in the news more often than many people care to see or hear.
The Brook Hill School recently made strides to help educate students and families on how to stay safe in a number of environments, as the school hosted an all-female self-defense class event Monday, Jan. 29, inside the Kyle Lake Athletic Center.
“We take the safety of students and staff very seriously here at Brook Hill,” said Bobby Brasher, Director of Student and Campus Security. “While they are young, we parents do whatever we can to make sure they are safe; however, they will grow up and venture out into the world on their own, and we want to be sure they are prepared as much as possible to manage their own safety.”
Brasher, who has several years of experience in the realm of criminal justice and public safety, including experience at the local, county, state, and federal levels, said idea for the self-defense class event specifically hosted for female students and their mothers was birthed because of the dangers pertaining to assaults involving young women in today’s society.
“The world that we live in nowadays, plus the emphasis we place on safety here at Brook Hill was really the driving force behind the event,” said Brasher. “Several of our students and their mothers were very interested in attending the class. Also, we have our off-campus education week known as SPARC Week (Spring Potential And Reality Courses), where groups of students will be going to Europe, South America, and Guatemala. A lot of our students told us they’d like to know what to look for and be alert to in terms of safety and security, which are several aspects that were addressed by this event.”
Brasher provided statistics in the subject of violent crimes, such as:
• In 2015, the FBI reported that violent crimes were up five percent nationwide;
• 63 percent of all violent crimes were aggravated assaults;
• In all assaults, teen girls ages 12-to-17 are more likely to be assaulted than adults;
• Teenage girls are at the highest rate of risk for abduction. 75 percent of all abductions are females between 12 and 17 years old.
Leading the all-female self-defense class hosted by Brook hill was Paul Landreth-Smith, a Certified Defense Tactics instructor in Tyler who has a long history in law enforcement, including stops with the London Metropolitan Police Department and London’s Scotland Yard Counter Terrorism SWAT Team.
“It was great to have Paul come in and teach the class,” said Brasher. “He’s a great instructor and has great experience; he taught all of the hand-to-hand survival skill classes for Scotland Yard and the London Metropolitan Police Department’s officer training. He teaches with us in our church safety program at Green Acres Baptist Church and Lane’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Tyler.”
Brasher said the topics covered by Landreth-Smith in the two-hour safety event included situational awareness, safety and escape planning, and hand-to-hand tactics and breaking physical holds.
According to Brasher, the response for the class was so great that the event quickly became a sell-out, as female students and parents saw the school’s hope and investment in ensuring safety for all.
“We were thrilled to offer these classes in self-defense and safety because it does a great service, particularly to our female students and parents,” said Brasher. “It gives them a level of comfort in letting them that at Brook Hill, we are emphasizing safety growth in addition to academic, spiritual, and physical growth. They’ll be able to take these lessons learned with them into the world as they head off to college.”
Brasher said with several students attending the event, the lessons taught and learned help to make Brook Hill a safer institution of learning.
“We are a safer school now because of this class,” said Brasher. “We now have a group of students who are more aware of their situations and surroundings. For instance, if they’re out and about at Sonic, Whataburger or Starbucks, or even if they’re here on our campus, they know if something looks out of place and what to do if they feel uncomfortable in a certain setting. Their level of awareness has been raised now to where, hopefully, they’re not staring down at their cell phones all the time, but they’re now alert and looking around. It’s another avenue of education we’re able to off, and there’s no substitute for good education, no matter in what realm it’s in.”
Due to the response the event has received, Brasher has now planned for a second event slated for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, inside the Kyle Lake Athletic Center. The new event will allow Brasher and Brook Hill to educate more attendees, as the event is being opened up to the general public.
“Currently, we’re having sign-ups right now with our Brook Hill parents, but we are allowing ladies within the Bullard area to attend, as well,” said Brasher. “Hopefully we will be able to educate people in the community and not have an incident like we did when Kayla Gomez-Orozco was kidnapped from a local church in 2016. Even though Bullard is a small city, there are still situations that arise; Bullard is growing and it’s turned into a nice medium-sized Texas community. We now have a 24-hour restaurant and Highway 69 is a major road. This event not only helps brook Hill, but we hope it will make the entire Bullard community more aware.”
A $20 registration fee will be assessed for attendees of the upcoming self-defense event.
For more information about the upcoming Brook Hill all-female self-defense class, contact Brasher’s assistant, Melissa Adkins, at (903) 894-5000.