Girl Scouts Learn self-defense

The Daily News - Local News
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Local Girl Scouts, fourth to sixth grade, learned more this week than how to sell cookies, build a campfire or organize a food drive.

Girl Scouts Learn self-defense

They watched a video about date rape, sexual assault, abduction -- and the Filipino street fighting techniques that could disable a sex predator more than double their size.

"Fire! Fire! Fire!" an actor shouted from the television.

About 30 girls from local troops huddled around the screen Wednesday, sitting on green benches and eating peanut butter sandwiches in the lodge at Longview's Camp Evergreen on Mill Creek Road. Footage flashed before their eyes of the actor escaping her attacker by biting, gouging eyes, pulling ears and slapping the groin, which is five times more painful than punching the sensitive area, according to the video.

The actor, Vancouver 15-year-old Dallas Jessup, presented the video that she and classmate Catherine Wehage, 16, created as a project at their school, St. Mary's Academy in Portland. The project quickly gained momentum as news spread through Vancouver and Portland, drawing help from a professional director and camera crew and cameos from actors Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly from ABC's hit television series "Lost."

The 46-minute film, titled "Just Yell Fire," advises young girls to yell "Fire!" when getting attacked rather than "Help!" or "Rape!" Studies show people are more likely to respond if they think there is a fire, Jessup said.

The Girl Scouts viewed the video while participating in a weeklong summer day camp program, and this year, the theme is survival. "One in four or you will be date-raped by the time you graduate college," Jessup, a black belt in Taekwondo, told the girls. "What if tomorrow, you were attacked?"

The video has been featured on talk shows, such as "Good Morning America," "The Montell Williams Show" and "FOX News Live" and in "People Magazine." It debuted Sept. 28, and Jessup has showed it to about 10 groups since then.

Although the target audience is 11- to 19-year-olds, Jessup was invited to Camp Evergreen because even 9- and 10-year-olds can be victims of rape or sexual molestation, said Monique Oliver, Girl Scouts membership director for Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and parts of Pacific County.

"They're mature enough to handle the information," Oliver said, although parental permission was required and girls entering fourth grade this fall were asked to leave the room during a scene portraying a date rape.

While watching the video, a combination of gasps and laughter erupted from the group as they watch the "predator" take a hit to the groin.

"That would have been creepy," one girl said to her neighbor.

The video also advised the girls to go places with a friend, avoid alcohol, never jog with headphones and keep at least a 5-foot distance from strangers. They should become suspicious if an adult flatters them or tells them to keep the friendship from their parents.

Each girl received a free DVD of "Just Yell Fire," as well as training for the defense moves from Jessup and fellow certified Filipino street fighting instructor Matt Wadzita, 16.

Tia Prudholm, an Longview 11-year-old, said she is glad that she and even younger girls are learning the scary fact that they could become a victim of rape.

"It helps you understand what you need to do if you're in a situation like that," Tia said. "I didn't think that much about it before I saw the video. ... I feel like I learned how to protect myself."