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Should Violence Prevention Education Include The Physical?

Norton Arts | Violence Prevention

When it comes to VIOLENCE PREVENTION, there are certainly different perspectives.

Even though Violence covers physical, verbal, nonverbal, intentional and non-intentional, the discussion point of this blog is if the physical defence of self plays a part in Violence Prevention Education?

To answer this question we first need to look at the environment. Ask someone that spends their time surrounded by physical threat and the answer will be YES! Many may feel that should an altercation turn physical they should have the skills to protect themselves. However, Self-Protection education is not just about the moment an altercation turns physical, it is more to do with trying to PREVENT a physical altercation, to be PROACTIVE, but also the reality of dealing with violence. It is learning how to IDENTIFY, AVOID and MANAGE conflict.

Now, Ask an Office Manager for example or even a Healthcare Administrator if physical defence education should be part of their Violence Prevention Plan, and the answer could be NO! But here is the grey area pertaining to the perception of physical defence education. Many believe that physical defence training involves martial arts and therefore the subconscious shifts towards the very thing they want to prevent, and that is violence. To clarify, it does not. Physical defence education as part of a well managed Violence Prevention Plan taught by professionals in their field, is about learning PRACTICAL skills to protect ourselves and those we work with. It is not about learning how to fight or learning those fancy looking and quite often complicated and unpractical techniques. It is about learning PRACTICAL and effective methods to PREVENT physical harm whilst also looking out for the best interest of the other party involved.

And then there is the individual. When we are not looking or working with a workplace Violence Prevention Plan, should one look to take self-protection training?

This is a huge point of debate among many that as a society we should be focusing on preventing violence through means of non-physical education versus the physical defence of self. There should be no "versus". It is true that the onus should NOT be on the individual to protect themselves, but those doing the harm. However is this facing the full aspect of reality?

Much of this confusion is a result of the lack of understanding and knowledge towards PRACTICAL self-protection/defence training. PRACTICAL self-protection training is about keeping things simple. It is about educating in situational awareness and how best to avoid potential danger. It is about getting safe as quickly as possible and also knowing our legal rights and responsibilities toward Defence of Person.

As a society we MUST absolutely continue to bring awareness to the issues surrounding violence. We must continue to educate others on respectful behaviour and how to intervene through programs such as the Bystander Training. We must help others to better understand the need to step up and lead by example with regards to positive character traits. But we must also face certain realities of the world. As much as we would like to end violence through these initiatives, and as much as they are helping, it is not enough. The sad reality of life is that violence is very real and the many contributing factors towards violent behaviour will continue. When you take into account of Emotional, Environmental, Social, Personality, Substance Abuse and even Materialist stressors to name a few, we start to see that there is a much bigger picture to Violence Prevention Education.

So should Violence Prevention Education include the physical defence of self? We shouldn't have to but we do. It is called reality. It is not learning to fight in a cage or wearing Gi's and belts, it is about leaning practical skills to IDENTIFY, AVOID and MANAGE conflict.

We all hope that we should never have to face violence but the statistics speak for themselves. 1 in 3 women are physically assaulted in their lifetime. It is not a good statistic. Over 80% of assaulted victims know their attacker. If learning how to protect yourself prevents a lifetime of emotional suffering, doesn't it make sense to be proactive towards our safety and learn the skills to stay safe?

You're Right! Violence Shouldn't Happen, But It Does... Be Prepared!

My job is to help educate people in the importance of learning such skills. As an individual I believe that all aspects violence prevention education is required to create a safer future. The more we can work together to combine the various initiatives and education, the better.

Norton Arts is a P.E.I. based company that provides practical education in conflict management and self-protection. Our focus is always on preventing violence while providing skills to Identify, Avoid and Manage conflict. We have specialized training modules for individuals to workplace environments. We can be reached at 902-978-1738 or at


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