DES PLAINES, Ill. — In the Chicago suburbs there’s a place where kidnapping attempts happen over and over, but the bad guys are actually good guys teaching kids how to stay safe.
For several years coach Steve Linder and a dedicated group of volunteers, made up mostly of law enforcement, have drilled the importance of safety and self defense into hundreds of students as part of “Life Tough Kids.”
“This is real life stuff and this is what happens, and we were saying that’s why we want to practice it with our kids,” Linder said.
The training includes lessons in everything from kick boxing and physical fitness, to conversations about internet safety that address sex abuse and drugs.
For parents like Brian Towey, it’s important to prepare their kids for a world that they perceive as becoming more and more unsafe for kids, whether it’s online or on the street.
“Coach Steve and the rest of the staff are building confidence in these kids if you take both the anti-bullying that they reinforce every class is extremely important,” Towey said.
One of the final lessons is a kidnapping scenario, part obstacle course and part reenactment, meant to teach them to stay aware — and fight back if necessary by fighting, scratching and biting until they get free.
“They’re taught to run, yell, tell,” Linder said. “Then afterward they need to run down to the school resource officer in the vest and give them a description… on who abducted them.
The training offers a lot of help for those who may be young, but are learning tough life lessons on keeping safe.
“When you see strangers and you don’t know them you don’t know what they’re gonna do to you when you’re alone,” student Vida Delgado said.