Before the school year gets going, some families in Elkhart County are taking their kids to class a little early.
A week-long class sponsored by the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department teaches kids how to protect themselves.
It is an important topic, especially in light of several abduction attempts in Michiana, including one in South Bend in broad daylight.
It happens in streets, parks and even front yards, which is why a national group is helping kids stay safe.
It is called RAD Kids. RAD stands for Resist Aggression Defensively.
The program teaches child safety, self defense, and even self esteem.
They are in their RAD kids stance saying loud and clear, “Stay back, your not my dad.”
That is the answer every parents hopes their child would give if approached by a strange man, but that is not always the case.
Seven-year-old Carlee Howell found herself saying “no” and running, but she says she was lucky that was all that happened.
Carlee says, “I was playing outside and a guy was driving a van and he pulled into a driveway and I didn't know if he was going to take me or not and I was really scared.”
That is why her mom insisted she and her older brother and sister come to RAD kids.
She says, “It's the whole idea of knowing what to do in case of an emergency so you can have a plan of action.”
Detective Norma Alber says this class is necessary with the new school year starting.
Alber says, “Going through this class, they deal with bullies. A lot of times what happens is kids don't ever really come forward with it.”
She did her research and found that 165,000 kids do not want to go to school out of fear of being bullied, and 90% of kids in grades four through eight admit they are bullied or threatened in school.
Carlee also confirmed that bullies are out there.
She says, “There's a kid on the bus that's mean to some people.”
Detective Alber says, “We put them in different scenarios where they learn how to deal with different people — adults, boys, and girls, and how to deal with bullies.”
Alber says that by the end of the week these kids will be ready to face anyone. “Normally, kids that are shy or would never approach an adult feel comfortable because they get a lot of self-confidence from this class.”
There will be another class offered for kids ages five to seven on September 10th-14th. For more information, call the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office or visit the website listed below.