Irving police officers are teaching women and teen girls to defend themselves during an assault.
The nonprofit Irving Police Athletic/Activities League adopted the Rape Aggression Defense program in March for its community outreach program.
"We felt the need that we needed to start this program because the Irving Police Athletic League has received several inquiries over the past several months before this program was implemented on women and self-defense," Crime Prevention Officer Lance Pikert said.
Irving police officers with national RAD certificates teach the four-class course that totals 12 hours of training time. The course is offered to women and teens as young as age 13.
"We've seen that trend here locally, that at 13 years old, you can still be a victim of an assault," Pikert said.
Other community programs, such as Kickstart Kids, complement the Irving PAL's programs, he said.
Kickstart Kids provides martial arts trainings at Irving school district schools.
"With what we're dealing with in society today and kids getting abducted at such early ages, I think that, with the right instructor, you can probably find a way to teach kids on how to best run from their abductor or defend themselves ," said Marissa Leach, Kickstart Kids' North Texas development manager.
Abeer Tijani, a Sam Houston Middle School eighth-grader, said she began learning karate when she was 11 years old.
"I always thought that karate was kind of cool anyway -- just to watch it on TV -- so to have the experience, to have the opportunity to come to school and learn it, I thought I should grab," she said.
Now 13, Tijani said she's close to working toward a black belt.
"It's good to learn how to defend yourself at a young age because then you don't forget it later on," she said.
The Irving PAL course has been offered seven times so far this year. The next course begins Dec. 10. People interested in taking the $20 course can sign up on Irving PAL's website.