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The Contender
Con (against)

Should self-defense classes be required in high school?

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sarahgrace16 has forfeited round #2.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/2/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,179 times Debate No: 102349
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If self-defense classes were required for high-schoolers to take, I believe that there wouldn't be as many cases of sexual assault and violence against women. Sexual assault is as prominent as ever in today"s society. According to the Journal of College Counseling, "1 out of every 4 women on college and university campuses had been victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault". Another article by the American Journal of Public Health states that, "It is estimated that in their lifetime, nearly 1 in 3 women has survived physical violence". These statistics are astonishing, and the number of cases can easily be reduced if we provide high-schoolers with self-defense classes.
Other solutions, such as implementing underage drinking prevention programs and bystander interventions, would be helpful but not as impactful as self-defense classes would be. For some college students, the benefits of alcohol are more important to them than the downsides of alcohol. Because certain underage students value alcohol too greatly, implementing underage drinking prevention programs would not be the most successful solution. Bystander interventions would possibly encourage others to get involved in these crises, but they would run the risk of negatively impacting bystanders" mental health.
Sexual assault and violence against women is a serious issue that needs an immediate solution to help prevent more cases from occurring, and I believe the most impactful solution would be to require self-defense classes.


First I'd like to thank sarahgrace16 for starting this debate as well as anybody who takes the time to read and/or judge this debate. I accept my role as Con and will be arguing that self-defense classes should not be required in high school. I will clarify that for my argument I am referring to primarily the US educational system as that is my country of residence.
I will start by building my argument and I will follow with a refutation of my opponents argument. I have 4 main points to present as well as a concern due to the vague nature of the topic.

My concern is about the enforcement of this resolution. Would individual high schools/school districts be mandating this? State governments? The federal government? High schools are motivated to have higher graduation rates, test scores, and prepare kids for higher education. Most would not willingly place another barrier between a student and graduation in order to require a class that will not reflect itself (and indeed may have a negative impact by reducing time for core curriculum) in state or national test scores or in higher numbers of students accepted to universities. States would have a similar issue because they too are motivated by high national test scores, graduation rates, and more students in colleges. This leaves the federal government which care about international test scores but would perhaps have the least to lose by mandating this. If the federal government mandates this it will need to provide additional funding to states and schools to make this possible. This is funding we don't have or that would be better spent elsewhere. Not to mention the federal government really shouldn't be micromanaging the educational system anyways. I would ask my opponent how they see their resolution being enforced.

I) Self-Defense would negate self-defense
If we teach all students male and female techniques to subdue opponents physically then we end up where we began if not in a worse place. If we use the example of sex offenders we can see clearly that they are considered most dangerous in the middle of their psychological treatment. This is because part of the process of rehabilitation for them is learning exactly the methods offenders use to achieve their goals. With this knowledge they are far more capable of wielding those manipulative techniques in an increasingly effective ways. That is why the rehabilitative process includes close supervision until the final steps of training them to see those behaviors as wrong are complete. If we mandate this we may have far more capable victims who can resist violence but we will also have far more capable offenders who would know and understand how their victims are going to react because they were taught the same things.

II) Discrimination against pacifists
In the United States we value our freedom to exercise our religious beliefs. We do not force Jewish students to defy laws of Kosher, we do not force atheists to pray in their classes, we do not force Christians to wear humans, and we should not force pacifists to fight or practice fighting techniques. People of many religions practice pacifism, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, Hindus, Mennonites, and most Buddhists to name a few. With this mandate we would be forcing these students to drop-out, fail, or act against one of their most cherished beliefs. This is wrong and unAmerican.

III) Burdening an overburden educational system
The US has been rapidly falling behind on the world stage as far as education goes. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) the US is lagging among other similarly developed countries. We rank 24th in science, 38th in math, and 38th in reading. (1) What Pro is suggesting is that we add a mandatory class which means we must cut a class. Do we cut core classes (Math, Science, English, Social Studies/History, etc.) or do we cut important elective classes that teach creative expression like the arts or usable job skills like shop or agriculture classes? Do we cut health classes or government classes? There are a lot of cool things to learn but just because some people think it'd be cool if students learned self defense does not mean we should force them to learn something they think would be beneficial. For example, philosophy is interesting to me and it'd be good if more people understood it. It would be beneficial for people to know how to prepare and handle food safely, how to do basic machine/car maintenance, or to understand basic psychology but obviously we cannot require everything for everyone.

IIII) School classes should promote elective job skills
Our educational system is deeply flawed and is a major contributor to unemployment/underemployment. One problem is that it does not teach applicable knowledge. An important function of civilised society is that individuals can trade skills and labor. This makes it possible for a doctor who cannot maintain a car to provide medical treatment in return for currency which they can use to buy the service of a mechanic. The mechanic can then use their currency to buy medical treatment or whatever else they may need. Our educational system tries to teach all students too many things that do not contribute to skill growth in their future field of employment. At my school agriculture classes was a very popular elective class because my small town had many children of farmers who planned to go into that field later in life. This class usually had to drop people because there were too many attempting to take it and not enough money was put into providing more space and time for these classes. Adding another mandatory class would only make matters worse by taking even more time from these classes that were critically important in developing successful contributing citizens. More classes should be elective. Instead of teaching unrealistically high levels of math and English look for ways to teach them more effectively. Instead of creating an ever increasing list of mandatory classes that might be good general knowledge, we should teach student how to do something to contribute to the economy so that they can afford things like self defense classes (which are often taught for free at community centers anyways).

I will now move to quickly refute my opponents argument.
My opponent's one given reason for mandatory self defense classes is to decrease sexual violence toward women. There are many reasons this is flawed logic.
1) I have already shown how if we teach women how to subdue an attacker, we are also teaching her potential attackers how to subdue her as well as how she might attempt to subdue them so they can prepare to counter them. For instance, it is easier to deal with an attacker with a gun if they are close and therefore easier to disarm or reach and we will proceed to give her skills on how to disarm the attacker from close up. Now the attacker is taught that by staying further back they are safer from anyone trained in self defense and the self defense taught is useless.
2) Like in my analogy about non-violent sex offenders this approach fails to address the root causes of violent crime. Violent crime is linked to many things one of which is poverty. How do we address poverty? There are many methods, an effective method could be to revise our educational system so that students are taught skills that apply to their future careers rather than forcing all students to take foreign language, arts, cooking, self defense, etc.

Making self defense classes mandatory is self negating and doesn't fulfill the goal of decreasing violence toward women. Doing this removes freedoms and places increased burdens. It fails because it doesn't address the root of the problem it intends to solve while exacerbating existing and creating new problems in our educational system. For these reasons, vote Con.

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