About RAD, the Rape Aggression Defense class

Lindsay Adelman and Gage Fuller

Four years ago, WHS introduced a new class, open to all junior girls, called Rape Aggression Defense (RAD). The program was formed as a part of the wellness junior curriculum, and according to wellness teacher Amanda Cosenza, the course teaches things such as self confidence, risk awareness prevention, risk avoidance tips and self defense skills and tactics.

“I think RAD is a great hands on course. It’s informative and helps build self confidence in young women,” Cosenza said. “Wayland High School students are lucky to have this in the wellness curriculum; I wish I received this program when I was in high school.”

RAD is a national program that is offered in other towns and communities as well as in Wayland. It is commonly found in colleges and high schools.

However, RAD is not just a theoretical course. After the junior girls go through a variety of classroom exercises, they partake in simulations that are meant to model real situations. The intruders and the trainees in the simulation wear complete protective gear, so they can unleash their moves without harming the other person involved.

Though many embrace the idea of teaching girls self defense in case a situation arises, many people also disagree with the absence of a respective course for boys.

“In the last couple of years I’ve had some great conversations with both a couple of concerned boys [who say] ‘we’re not immune from violence,’” Principal Allyson Mizoguchi said.

Some of the greatest criticism has come from the girls taking the class. Some are against the fact that they are participating in the class while many of the boys are pumping weights in the weight room.

“The way that RAD works is that it’s actually a program designed to prevent men’s violence against women,” Mizoguchi said. “And it also has some really strong caveats about [how] violence doesn’t just happen [from] men to women. It happens men to men, women to women, women to men and [the class] acknowledges all those different scenarios.”

In response to this criticism, wellness teacher Rachel Hanks created a curriculum that builds off of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program (MVP) — a curriculum for boys and girls about the prevention of violence and healthy relationships. Hanks’s program is similar program to RAD, but it is just for boys.

Hanks is still figuring out the shape of the exact curriculum, but it is offered to them with the thinking that everyone needs to be mindful of violence prevention, and everyone needs to be mindful of the elements of healthy relationships.

“I’m very proud that the high school offers RAD to all junior girls; I mean, that makes a big statement about the kind of skills that we want our junior girls to have,” Mizoguchi said. “And I also am proud that we are thinking carefully about how to offer an experience that’s equally meaningful to boys. … RAD can’t exactly serve that purpose in this context, but there are still ways to help raise awareness and give boys a really good experience too.”