Self-Defense in Schools?

Self defense, not allowed in schools?
i dont understand why self defense is not allowed in our school district, and i need to do a speech on it… any ideas would surely help, ty


Your question better phrased is this:

Is it constitutional for a public school to deny a student the right to self-defense by enacting a zero-tolerance policy for the use of violence in the student code of conduct?

That should clear up some of the confusion here among the non-lawyers. If you use that question at the beginning of your speech, you should do well.

Your topic has incredibly recent legal relevance. Right now, our Supreme Court is determining whether the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution can be applied to the states. This is after the recent decision in DC v. Heller which significantly expanded our 2nd Amendment Rights, but only in a federal sense. Should the Supreme Court decide that we have a fundamental right to bare arms, your school policy could be unconstitutional.

The reason why is because fundamental rights enjoy a special kind of treatment in courts known as “strict scrutiny.” For a regulation that impacts a fundamental right to be valid, it must be narrowly tailored to serving a compelling government interest. It is very limited when an action can satisfy this test (e.g. yelling fire in a crowded theater). Your school board would have a very difficult time justifying a ban on a fundamental right were your right to self-defense to be declared fundamental to a free democracy.

I could only find one court case with limited research that involves your issue directly and that is Brett v. Board of Ed. In that case, the trial judge held that a zero-tolerance policy is valid because self-defense IS NOT a fundamental right, but only a liberty interest subject to RATIONAL BASIS REVIEW. Of course, if your state (or the Supreme Court pending the decision in McDonald v. Chicago) declare that it is a fundamental right, then the policy would be unconstitutional.

So your speech should center on the theme of “The Right of Self-Defense is a fundamental right of a free democracy”

Start by asking a question: “Is it constitutional for a public school to deny a student the right to self-defense by enacting a zero-tolerance policy for the use of violence in the student code of conduct?”

Say, “We can answer this question by determing if we have a fundamental right to defend ourselves.”

You should mention our right to self-defense under the 2nd Amendment
Our right to self-defense as a nation to retaliate against terrorists who would attack us

You should mention our right to personal autonomy that goes hand in hand with self-defense
Your right to self-autonomy permits a 16 year-old to seek an abortion without parental consent in most states.

You should mention that a public education system is subject to the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees certain unalienable rights.

You should mention that a public education imparts on you a sense of what it means to be an American and what it means to have rights

Finally, you should declare that the right of self-defense is fundamental and that the zero tolerance policy is therefore not only unconstitutional, but a breach in the schools duty to teach us what it means to be an American with unalienable rights. Do we have a fundamental right to defend ourselves? Yes. Is the school’s policy constitutional? No.

The “in loco parentis” doctrine is not irrelevant here. In loco parentis is not a defense to a claim of a breach of a fundamental right nor for a restriction on a liberty interest.

As a martial arts instructor and a lawyer, I would sue the school if my kid protected him or herself and was disciplined for it.

Brett v. Board of Ed…
District of Columbia v. Heller…
McDonald v. City of Chicago………


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11 Comments on “Self-Defense in Schools?”

  1. Purpleslog Says:

    When I was a kid, you could defend yourself aka fight back – without getting in trouble (I also didn’t have to fear any kid having a gun or significant knife). The kid or bully starting it got punished. So if your defense was to beat up the bully, that was okay.

    By the time I was in college all of my friends or associates who where student teaching in high schools all agreed that both parties in a fight needed to be punished – regardless of who started it. No longer was “defending yourself” a justification.

    I was horrified and argued much against it. Some minor friendships ended over the issue.

    Needless to say, IMO much of the problem with discipline that plagues public schools comes from the fact that bully and victim both face equal punishment. The bully doesn’t care if if he gets punished – he delights that his victim gets punished a second time.

    Growing up I was a quiet bookworm of sorts and a “obvious” target of bullies. I don’t think I would have made it through school if I couldn’t have defended myself with out getting into trouble. As things turned out, when bullies came for me I took them on (sometimes more then one at a time). My veteran marine dad had taught how to throw and take a punch, simple hip throws and trips, and some pressure moves / joint locks – so I could dish it out. That plus the fact that I went aggressive and kind of nuts during fights, I was able to put a bit fear into the bullies early on and control the flow of the fights.

    Later on when bullies left me alone (word had gotten out), I found myself putting myself between bullies and others just for the joy of watching the bully back off or for the fun of messing them up a bit. Of course, I got to maintain the moral high ground!

    Anyways, the world of my youth no longer exists.

  2. ymarsakar Says:

    Interesting story, purple. Thanks for sharing.

  3. SDC Says:

    All very good points, but how do regular people protect themselves? How about non-lethal weapons? ie. Tasers, stun guns & pepper sprays for those that are physically or mentally unable to protect themselves with self defense fighting techniques?
    And when I say mentally unable, it takes a state of mind to be prepared to defend yourself physically.

  4. ymarsakar Says:

    I would recommend they find a qualified instructor that can condition them to use physical force. Self defense classes have had critical issues teaching women due to women’s slightly greater reluctance to use physical force than men.

    or No Non Sense Self Defense central knowledge board are both recommended for those that want the meat and bones of the material.

  5. ymarsakar Says:

    Oh yea, use tazers if you are authorized legally to do so, but always have a backup ready if it fails.

    A trainer should be able to both condition a person to use physical violence on a mental level, and should know the truth about the use of force.

  6. Peter Brusso Says:

    Great blog post! I too am a recognized martial artist who is absolutely horrified at this school policy. I think we should consider teaching our kids how to avoid a punch, blocks that hurt so that when the bully comes.. they get their own energy back. But I do admit, just being there will get both parties suspended but the bully does get a physical lesson. I also like the son of a former Marines idea, add pressure points to the mix too. Also, improvised weapons might be a use here. A self defense weapon like the predator, once learned, one can find household items as improvised predators that would help to punish the bullies a bit I would think. I wonder if anyone has thoughts on “blocking” techniques and would it still get the student thrown out of school? Would just laying down on the floor and getting beat also get you suspended? Well, then maybe if that all is true, then bully punishing might be our best option to teach.

  7. […] crime and lack of parenting means that children have little moral compass.  In the article “Self-Defense in Schools,” martial arts instructor and lawyer Sake White warns “I would sue the school if my kid […]

  8. Good stuff, if you have problem with fighting in your school, please read!!! They won’t change policies if you stand back and do nothing.

  9. self defense Says:

    May I simply just say what a relief to uncover a person that actually knows what they’re talking about over the internet. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people should check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you surely have the gift.

    [EDIT: Thanks for the comment. Just to be safe I removed your link since it was infected by malware]

  10. Jholland Says:

    So you said you would sue if your son defended himself and was disciplined for it…. Well, here’s my story… My son WAS attacked last year in PE by another boy while playing dodge-ball. When the kid stormed over to my son, cursing at him, my son backed up against the wall, hands up saying, “Go back to your side, and leave me alone!” ….The said bully had his hands around my son’s throat…while the PE teacher was in his office on his computer, mind you. My son (who has been in martial arts for more of his life than he has not) delivered a groin strike to the boy and hammer fists to the boy’s head when he would not get off him and pushed him away. Remember, my son is 4 belts away from a black belt in Tang Soo Do… If he’d wanted to hurt this other kid, he could have.
    He (my son) only did the minimal to get the kid off him, because he knows that even his 7 year old sister could crush his windpipe…. And the bully was a pretty big kid… Oh! And by the way, I teach at the middle school where my son attends and where this happened. Let me also add, my husband works in law enforcement, and the other kid… well, he’s a County Commissioner’s son. Great for politics, right? So what does my Assistant Principal do? He gives the bully AND my son 3 days suspension. So, when my husband goes the next day to find out what my son was being accused of, according the school’s policy, the AP didn’t even know what he was talking about! He had no idea that the county’s policy sites fighting according to our state law. So, my husband (a COP) requests to know WHICH of criminal laws of our state he was being accused of. The AP gets all defensive and tells my husband if he doesn’t like it, he can appeal it… And after my husband leaves (ready to file an appeal), the principal pulls me out of class to tell me that if my husband files an appeal, he would “have to” file criminal charges against my son. He then calls my husband to tell him the same… Okay… so you may be wondering where we are now… There are a lot more details, but I’ll try not to bore you all to death. My husband retained an attorney… The “appeals committee” hadn’t even read the witness statements at the hearing, yet they upheld the suspension. SO, he filed a lawsuit. The judge here in our county recused himself…. because we know him… and it went to another neighboring county. Self defense is a fundamental right in our state… But they BOE claimed they were immune to being sued. REALLY?? And WHO was supposed to be protecting my son? AND WHY have I been paying union dues all these years, in case I get sued? FUNNY thing… after waiting 2 months to hear, the Sheriff’s Dept gets a subpoena for all documents in the case (the only one was the incident report), and within TWO DAYS the judge ruled that teachers (principals, etc.) ARE immune to being sued. They NEVER gave my son due process, my husband never got to see any witness statements… ANYWAY. He submitted a request to reconsider, which was ALSO denied. So… next would be to appeal to the appellate court to overturn the judge’s decision. Did I mention that weeks later, I was moved to another school? After being at the same one for 9 years? I’ll be honest…I’M so SICK OF POLITICS AND EVERYBODY SCRATCHING EVERYBODY’S BACK! From the Sheriff’s Dept. to the Board of Education.

  11. ymarsakar Says:

    Generally the current strategic conflict has shifted to a slightly different level. Lawsuits are still useful… for lawyers getting rich mostly. For getting Social Justice Whores off your back, there’s usually a far more immediately beneficial path.

    Union dues are mostly the collections they get from the slaves, so that they can pay the totalitarian regime to build the military and enforcement branches up. It’s a kind of money laundering system, essentially, or a forced bondage serf system.

    Indirectly inflicting personal damage is something the Left understands far better than “enforcement of law”. Although the legal system is still feared by them, but they also have many tricks to use it to punish their enemies as well. The ones with “political backing” usually has the most tricks to play in that ball field.

    Having an iphone ready to record everything done in school, based on voice activation, and storing it is also useful. Both against bullies as well as against the adult powers that be. A spycraft technique, yes, but that’s the society moderns have “built”.

    Personally, if I know that I was going to be suspended or punished the same as the target, I would make the most of it. Might as well get the most bang for your buck of suspension. Then again, maybe that’s why I’m not in school.

    To clarify something, I’m not the lawyer quoted in the OP. That was just a source link. My preferred methods are a lot more direct and have little to nothing to do with police or law enforcement agencies. Lawyers and police are merely there to clean the bodies up afterwards, in my view.

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