RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – One Virginia lawmaker wants schools to start teaching kids how to protect themselves from child predators.
At the Mixed Martial Arts school in South Richmond, 11-year-old Adam Toler is taking Brazilian Jujitsu on this snow day.
“I really like it because it’s a really good exercise. And it makes you really strong,” said Adam Toler.
While Adam said he thankfully has not had to fight off an attacker, he is learning a valuable lesson on how to defend himself.
Darla Toler, Adam’s mother, said she wants her son to be ready for anything.
“I can’t think of a worst thing of a parent to have to go through that worry and that sense of not being in control and your child not being safe,” Toler said.
As a result, Delegate Ben Cline, R-24th, has proposed House Bill 965, which would mandate school boards across the Commonwealth to include eight hours of instructional training through its physical education classes.
The program’s funding would come from a $5 fee placed on convicted felons as part of their court costs.
The class time would teach students how to recognize, avoid, resist and escape physical, sexual and online threats.
“The numbers of kids going missing each year in Virginia is so high and it’s a stubborn percentage it needs to come down,” Cline argued. “And we need to do everything we can to give kids the tools to resist and escape those type of predators in the future.”
Cline said the program would not be mandatory, so that way parents could choose to opt-out their children.
However, Toler believes anything that could help keep her children safe in an unsafe environment is paramount.
“I think it would be because I think that as a culture we’re concerned about school safety and the safety of our children. I think this is just another component of that. And a really healthy component,” said Toler.
The proposed bill still faces many hurdles at the General Assembly before it could become law.