Steubenville. Rehtaeh Parsons. A high school "hotness" tournament. These are the stories that keep parents of little girls up at night. Finding respect for our daughters, finding a safe space for our girls, is like searching for a needle in a haystack. But it's out there.
Take Project Bold. It's run by soldiers in the Indiana National Guard. It's teaching tween girls self-defense. But it's so much more than that.
The program at the U.S. Army's Camp Atterbury was developed because Indiana is ranked as the second most sexually violent state for young girls. Girls as young as 10 are learning from soldiers how to defend themselves in case of an attack.
The girls are learning take-downs and basic combative techniques.
But they're also learning confidence.
They're learning empowerment.
They're learning that they can do what these brave soldiers can do -- stand up for themselves.
They're developing self-esteem.
Because despite the idea that people with self-esteem are successful, it's just the opposite. Studies show that performing well actually builds self-esteem for kids.
Being able to defend yourself is part of performing well in life. You feel more in control over your own body.
I know. I was a shy, awkward teenage girl with an eating disorder who became more boisterous and self-assured through years of karate classes. I learned what I could do with my body, and I became less afraid of being me.
In a world where teenage girls continue to be blamed for their own rapes, where teenage boys can run contests that cut girls down to nothing more than a ranking of their breast size and weight, we need more Project Bolds. We need more girls to be put in positions of power: power over their own bodies and power over the a society that continues to subjugate them.
Because programs like the one the soldiers at Camp Atterbury are running aren't just about readiness should the need to physically defend themselves arise. They're about helping girls develop a confidence that carries over into everything they do.
Check out the awesome that is Project Bold ... and the awesome soldiers who are running it:
Would you sign your daughter up?
Image via Fox 59