A Kids Empowerment class from Culture of Safety can give parents peace of mind and help children feel more confident.  Our kids’ self-defense classes are active and fun – and will help young people deal with bullies, teach them how to get help from safe adults, and give them skills to protect themselves and get to safety in an emergency situation.  Sign up  for a Public Workshop for Kids and Teens!

Girl Scouts practice using their strong voice and powerful defender’s stance

We offer classes for:

  • Scout Troops
  • School clubs
  • School P.E. & Health classes
  • Private groups
  • And more!

No nightmares here! 

Our self-defense classes are strengths-based rather than fear-based, and give young people knowledge and skills to enhance their safety without putting scary images in their heads.

Beyond Stranger Danger

Lots of kids’ self-defense classes focus on ‘stranger danger,’ despite the fact that 90% of criminal violence against kids comes from someone they know.  And that’s not even taking into account the everyday bullying that doesn’t make it into the statistics, but can have lasting effects on a kids’ (or adult’s!) psychological well-being.  Culture of Safety teaches emergency-level self-defense that is effective against a stranger, and also teaches young people how to stand up for themselves against everyday aggression, and how to get help from a safe adult if another adult (known or otherwise) is inappropriate.

Who can participate?

Kids’ self-defense classes from Culture of Safety are for young people of all genders and abilities, and instructors have experience working with students with both cognitive and sensory challenges. We strongly recommend that participants in kids’ self-defense classes be close to the same age and/or developmental level so that we can tailor the class appropriately.  The age divisions we recommend are:

  •  Ages 6 & 7 /1st & 2nd grade
  •  Ages 8 – 10/3rd – 5th grade
  • Ages 11 – 13/6th – 8th grade
  • Ages 14 – 17/9th – 12th grade

Class Options

Parent-Child Classes All of our classes for young people can be offered as parent/child classes.

Single-Session Classes

These classes are designed to meet only once.  Most can be adapted into multi-session classes as well.

    • Kids’ Empowerment Classes (ages 10 and under) An overall empowerment-based self-defense class that gives kids tools to stay safe in a variety of situations.  Through interactive and fun exercises, kids learn to use the Five Fingers of Safety to increase their own personal safety and to identify and enlist the help of safe adults. Because we craft each workshop to the specific developmental needs of the participants, our trainings are always age-appropriate.  Topics include:
      • Safety rules and listening to “funny feelings”
      •  Using your voice to speak up for yourself and others
      • How to get away from bad situations, from bullies to dangerous grownups
      • Easy-to-learn physical techniques that even small people can use to protect themselves in an emergency situation
      • Talking to trustworthy adults to get help
  • Youth & Teen Empowerment Classes  (ages 11+)
    In this fun, interactive, and engaging empowerment-based self-defense workshop, youth will practice using assertive communication to ask for what they want and need to feel safe, strong, and respected, and to notice when someone is trying to ignore their boundaries. They’ll also learn how to listen to their instincts and practice awareness of their surroundings, and how to know where safety is, where danger is, and how to move towards safety and away from danger in a variety of situations.
    Using the model of Body, Voice and Mind, participants will:
    Body – Communicate your strength through body language, and defend yourself physically if you have to
    Voice – Use assertive communication to increase your everyday safety and to de-escalate tense situations before they escalate to physical harm

    Mind -Discover your mental tools: learn where the real risks of violence are in your life, and what you can do to minimize them. Practice mindfulness techniques to decrease your stress and increase your ability to respond under stress.

  • Standing up to bullies (all ages) This interactive class uses verbal and physical exercises to teach and give kids practice with strong verbal, physical, and mental strategies for dealing with peers in situations ranging in degree and intensity from minor conflict with friends (uncomfortable and unpleasant, but not unsafe) to bullying behavior (unsafe).
  • Transit Safety (6th grade and up)  This class is especially great for younger teens ages 11 – 14  who are preparing to use the CTA by themselves, and who are ready to navigate their worlds with a higher level of independence. Skills emphasized include:

      • practicing awareness
      • strategic positioning on buses and trains
      • recognizing and responding to inappropriate behavior from adults
      • physical responses in emergency situations
      • and seeking help from adults in public spaces
  • Mindfulness skills for kids (all ages)
    Learn how to calm the mind, increase focus, and regulate emotions through fun and engaging mindfulness-based exercises. Curriculum for Kids and Teens Mindfulness programs are drawn from Dr. Epperson’s decades of experience and are supplemented by exercises from Calm Classroom and Kindness Curriculum, two rigorously evaluated mindfulness programs used in schools across the Midwest.

Multi-session classes

These classes work best when presented as a series.  A series can be between 3 and 12 sessions (or occasionally more).   Individual sessions are typically between 60 and 90 minutes, except for the Balanced Class described below.

Voice/Verbal Skills Self-Defense Classes

All of our classes include physical, verbal, and mental curriculum elements.  However, these classes focus on verbal skills young people can use to feel safe, strong, and respected with peers and in new situations.

  • Be a Friend, Have a Friend/Bystander Intervention for Young People (3rd grade – 5th grade) Research shows that when peers intervene on behalf of someone being bullied, the bullying behavior often stops very quickly.  But it can be hard for young people to know what to do or say to intervene.  This interactive class helps student come up with their own words to interrupt bullying behavior, and gives them a chance to practice intervening.
  • Creating a Culture of Safety at School/Bystander Intervention for Youth and Teens (6th grade and up) This is a version of Be a Friend, Have a Friend that is developmentally and socially appropriate for middle schoolers and high schoolers.
  • Communication & Leadership Skill Building  (high school) A great option for high schoolers, this class is similar to the adult version (Communication, Connection, & Safety in the Workplace), but designed to support the needs of teens.

Body/Physical Skills Self-Defense Classes

All of our classes include physical, verbal, and mental curriculum elements.  However, these classes focus on physical skills.

  • Kickboxing for Kids (5th grade and up) In this highly interactive and structured class, kids experience the joy and strength of of their own bodies through kicking and punching into pads. We focus on the fundamental mechanics of  of strong, efficient techniques while practicing how to support and be a good partner to others. This class is highly active (both cardio, and strength-building), as students will be either holding pads or punching/kicking the whole time.
  • Karate basics for kids (all ages):
    In this active class, kids learn the basic stances, strikes, and kicks inspired by  Japanese forms of karate, including Kyokushin and Seido karate. Along the way, students will be guided in using these techniques to create their own unique ‘kata’ (or form) which they can present at the last session.

Balanced Class: Full Empowerment Self-Defense Course (Teens 14+)

This class includes both physical and verbal curriculum sections approximately equally, and includes sections on responding to harassment, recognizing healthy relationships, responding to weapons, and more.  Full outline available upon request.  This is an essential course for high schoolers and emerging adults!  Individual sessions may be as long as 3 hours, or this can be delivered in an intensive, all-day or all-weekend format.  Shorter sessions are also available.


Pricing is available at a group rate or per-participant rate.  Discounts are available for multi-session classes.  We offer special pricing for girl scouts, and we will always work with you to find a price point that is affordable for you, fair, and congruent with our commitment to equity.


Erin and Amy pose with a kids's self-defense class

Ready to book a class?  Send us a message!