Michigan schools should teach self-defense skills and nutrition

If Michigan high school grads learned personal finance, survival skills, and how to eat properly, our future would look brighter

Two weeks ago, I wrote that Michigan public schools can produce financially responsible graduates and laid out ideas of how that might happen. This week, let’s consider the practical survival skills that Michigan schools should teach.

Top of mind is self-defense and assault prevention. Nearly 300 cases of human trafficking were reported in Michigan in 2020, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

RAINN, an organization that combats sexual violence, reports that 13% of college students have been subjected to rape or sexual assault. Why not prepare our kids to avoid these dangers? Michigan State University is one institution that does. It requires first- and second-year students to participate in a training program on sexual assault, according to WILX-TV.

Imagine if young women were equipped to defend themselves from a young age. Schools could bring in specialists during gym class to teach about the different scenarios of being attacked or kidnapped. Students could learn about how to get out of dangerous situations, such as being put in restraints or choked. They could also be taught situational awareness and how to recognize when they are being put in a dangerous situation — and how to get out of it.

Boys should also be taught situational awareness. In addition to “No Means No,” boys should be taught the importance of the character of the company they keep. Running with the wrong crowd is a good way to find one’s self in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Boys should be taught a positive, upstanding masculinity. They should be told of the severe consequences they will face should they choose to be violent. They should be taught to avoid compromising situations.

Schools should also teach the practices of healthy living, and the importance of nutrition. Don’t just tell them about the harms of fast food. Educate them about the food system. Don’t just decry bad choices. Promote better ones.

We are a nation with an obesity problem and looming health care disaster. No doubt this is in large part due to some of the food we eat. Kids should learn from a young age the effects of sugar and preservative-laden foods that offer little nutritional value.

Students should be taught the effects of diabetes, cancer, and obesity and the role food can play in our mental health. The current efforts we devote in schools to learning about health practices are too little. If we don’t do something, we will literally pay the price.

This is the education that will contribute to a healthy, competent and productive society. Can we say the current model does the same?

Jamie A. Hope is assistant managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email her at

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.