You hear high school self-defense classes and you picture leg kicks and broken boards. When our Terry Dean visited Oak Park and River Forest High School last week to write about “True Colors” — an initiative coming out of those classes — he found something altogether different. Long before girls or boys are taught to kick or chop, they focus, in gender-divided classes, on self-esteem and communication.

Self-defense classes came to OPRF for girls back in the 1980s and only in recent years for boys. The classes for girls focus on body image, empowerment and reasons to avoid bullying. Interestingly, the boys are taught how to disengage from confrontations, how to de-escalate without losing face.

Now this is self-defense.

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