Refuse To Be A Victim: Tell Your Friends, Save A Life

RTBAV2R.jpgRefuse To Be A Victim® is a nationally-recognized crime-prevention seminar program endorsed by law enforcement agencies and state governments across the country. One of the only programs of its kind, and the only one to require instructor certification, this program equips participants with the knowledge and attitude necessary to avoid criminal encounters and survuve them if they cannot be avoided. In this article, we go “behind the scenes” of this innovative program and explore why neighborhood associations, homeowners associations, civic associations or houses of worship might want to sponsor a Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminar for its members.

Note: No Victims’ founder and many other Certified Refuse To Be A Victim® Instructors offer to lead crime-prevention seminars for only the cost of participant materials (typically $5 per participant).

Refuse To Be A Victim® In A Nutshell

A Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminar is led by one or more Certified Refuse To Be A Victim® Instructors, lasts three to four hours and is intended to equip participants to develop their personal, 42-point personal safety plan covering the following topics:

  • Home Security
  • Automobile Security
  • Personal Safety
  • Technology Security
  • Self-Defense Classes
  • Personal Protection Devices (non-lethal)

Additionally, three optional modules are available to cover Workplace Safety, Teaching Children About Personal Safety and Personal Safety for the Elderly and Disabled which may be included depending on the expected audience for the seminar.

While the seminar is geared towards imparting fundamental concepts, the volume of information presented is enormous and most participants (even those with significant prior safety and security experience or education) feel the time was well spent and they learned something new and valuable. Delivery of the seminar content is through a combination of presentation and demonstration, and moves at an extremely rapid pace with time for in-depth questions during breaks and after the seminar.

Participants receive a Student Handbook containing the reference information for which the presentation and demonstration provides context. Detailed information about Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminar content and materials is available in many places on the Internet, including the Crime Prevention tab of this website.

The Inside Scoop On Refuse To Be A Victim® Crime-Prevention Seminars

Heritage and History:

  • Refuse To Be A Victim® originally was developed by the National Rifle Association. This sometimes can be an issue as the NRA’s primary focus is on firearms issues and the mere mention of the organization often evokes strong emotions. However, the program was developed to address a need for non-firearms related safety training and there is only a single topic addressing firearms in the curriculum – which can (and often is) removed at the discretion of the instructor.
  • While the NRA is credited for the creation of the program, no element of the program endorses firearms ownership or membership in the NRA.The downplaying of the NRA’s primary issue and the absence of any recruiting-focused content was done deliberately out of a recognition that failing to do so might alienate those who could most benefit from the program and lead to their not attending.
  • Even if the minimal firearms content is not removed, there are no firearms used during the seminar and instructors are expressly prohibited from showing or even possessing firearms at Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminars.
  • Love the NRA or hate it, it is difficult to dispute they have one of the most sophisticated programs in the world in place to develop new educational content and train highly effective instructors.  Even those who hate the NRA who decide to participate in a Refuse To Be A Victim® seminar acknowledge that the merits and benefits of the seminar far outweigh the heritage of the program.

Content and Materials:

  • Refuse To Be A Victim® seminar content and materials generally are excellent – written for the novice but rich enough to present new ideas and concepts to those who have already taken steps to live more safely. The focus of the content is on sharing proven ideas about avoiding criminal encounters without pushing any one possible technique or course of action as being the only “right” one. Similarly, while many potential tools are presented there is no promotion of any one type of tool and no marketing or promotion of any specific products or brands.
  • The one weakness of the content and supporting materials is that they are not always completely up to date. For example, the current Technology Security section discusses the importance of anti-virus software but not anti-spyware software. Instructors are expected to bridge the gap between the currency of the materials and today’s safety issues, however, instructors themselves can fall behind on the latest trends and information. All that being said, the participants themselves often fill in gaps or are able to speak to content that is outdated or missing from the materials, minimizing this as an issue.
  • The Student Handbook, centerpiece of the participant materials, was designed to serve as a follow-along and note-taking document during the seminar itself and then to become a reference for the participants after they complete the seminar. It fulfils both of these purposes well and would be a great reference even if read by someone not attending a seminar. However, the combination of Student Handbook, presentation slides (which are not provided to participants) and instructor commentary and demonstrations is an even more effective combination.

Instructor Certification and Instructors:

  • Certification as a Refuse To Be A Victim® Instructor requires completion of an Instructor Development Workshop, completion of a course of study and passing an exam (self-scored). Following certification, instructors’ performance is monitored via participant evaluations and the national program office identifies and remediates instructors who do not receive largely positive evaluations.
  • There are currently 1,300 Certified Refuse To Be A Victim® instructors nationwide, but only a fraction of these are actively leading seminars. Instructors come from many walks of life, including military and law-enforcement (current or retired), instructors of other types of self-defense or personal safety educational programs and “everyday” men and women interested in making these seminars available in their communities.
  • This varied background means that some instructors’ presentation styles and tone will differ from others, and that some instructors will be stronger in certain content areas. This can sometimes lead to a mis-match between the style of an instructor and the intended audience, which can reduce (though only rarely eliminate) the value of participation.
  • For this and other reasons instructors often seek to team-teach – improving the chances that at least one instructor’s style will work for each participant and that a sufficient base of knowledge and experience is available in each of the seminar’s topics to provide insights beyond the content of the presentation and Student Handbook.

Seminar Structure and Duration:

  • Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminars are intended to be between three and four hours in duration with a ten-minute break each hour, and to cover off on all six major topic areas (home, automobile, personal and technology safety, self-defense classes and non-lethal personal protection devices). The three optional topics (workplace, children and elderly/disabled) typically require an additional 15-20 minutes each to cover.
  • Practical experience indicates that packing a standard seminar into anything less than four hours is very challenging for both instructors and participants. Instead, if four hours simply cannot be scheduled, it may be preferable to remove one or more of the six topic areas and forego all of the optional topics. Splitting a four-hour seminar into two two-hour sessions on adjoining days also is reported to work well.
  • Home security and non-lethal personal protection devices are far and away the most popular topics and should be given adequate time to avoid participants feeling these important topics have not been sufficiently covered.
  • As mentioned previously, the seminars are delivered through a combination of presentation and demonstration, with a great many visual aids and “props” employed as the content is delivered. Many participants report the demonstration of various non-lethal personal protection devices is very helpful in their subsequent personal safety planning and so should include as many devices as possible, practical and safe.
  • Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminars do not provide any hands-on training in any self-defense technique or personal protection device – their demonstration is intended solely to educate participants as to the options available.

The Bottom Line

Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminars save lives. The simple act of investing three or four hours of time to attend a seminar often is a psychological first-step by participants in the important process of taking control of their own safety and security. Even participants who do not follow through on all of the recommendations in the seminars generally do at least a few things differently after attending a seminar to improve their safety. Those who embrace the core message of the seminar – develop your personal safety plan before something happens so you have the most options open to you – are much better equipped to avoid and survive criminal encounters.

Neighborhood associations, homeowners associations, civic associations and houses of worship play a key role in making this seminar available within communities by sponsoring them, encouraging their members to participate, providing a venue and providing critical logistical support. Sponsorship generally is fairly easy and the costs incurred by a sponsoring organization little, if any.

Potential sponsors in or around Metro Atlanta should contact No Victims’ founder via the Contact page on this website or through Safe Atlanta For Everyone to obtain a sponsorship information packet. Potential sponsors elsewhere should visit the national Refuse To Be A Victim® homepage to inquire about available instructors in their area who may be willing waive their instructor fee and lead seminars as a community service. Grants may be available to offset the cost of the materials for qualified non-profit organizations.

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