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About Women

Self-Defense Training Offered to the Deaf

February 01, 1987|JANICE MALL

The Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women will offer a free training program to deaf women who would like to become self-defense instructors, the first such program in California. The commission has offered self-defense training to deaf and other diverse populations of women, and decided that the "optimum learning situation" would be for deaf women to learn from other deaf women.

"In the last year, we've been doing a lot of work in the deaf community and we've gotten a very enthusiastic response," Rosanna Hill of the commission staff said. "There was virtually nothing out there, nothing in the way of education about sexual assault or self-defense." Deaf women have also had less access to support and assistance after an assault, she said.

While there has not been a great deal of research on assaults of deaf women, Hill said, "What we know is that women with any kind of disability are more vulnerable (to sexual attack). Statistically, they are assaulted more," Hill said.

There will be an orientation session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday for women interested in learning about the training. (It is also open to hearing women who are skilled in sign language.) To register and get information on the location, women may call Hill or Rebecca Bauman at (213) 651-3147 (voice) or (213) 651-4610 (TDD).

Mixed messages and confusion about sex are underlying causes of the high teen pregnancy rate, according to a new study of teen sexuality commissioned by Planned Parenthood/Los Angeles and conducted by Polston Marketing Associates.

The survey, which follows a national Planned Parenthood study conducted last year by the Louis Harris Organization, interviewed focus groups of girls 13 to 17 representing black, Latina and Caucasian teens in the Los Angeles area.

"In our study, we attempted to find out why so many adolescents are irresponsible in their sexual attitudes," said Betty Polston, who directed the Los Angeles survey.

Polston said that the findings about most teens in the study was that they have enormous conflicts about sex--pulled one way by their parents and their own beliefs that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and in the opposite direction by the media and their peers.

"The result is a tremendous anxiety," Polston said. "Like all of us, teen-agers tend to cope with anxiety through avoidance and denial. They avoid dealing with the potentialities of sex. They know about birth control, but they deny the need for contraception. They simply don't plan. This cover-up is their way of coping with an unpleasant truth--that if they use contraception, they are admitting they are engaging in an unacceptable activity."

Planned Parenthood's national study found sex education in schools and greater communication with parents to be the most effective preventives of teen pregnancy. Polston said she believes that parents are the vital link, that they can lessen their children's anxiety and need to cover up or deny their activities.

The organization is beginning rap groups and counseling to help parents improve communication skills at its nine clinics in the Los Angeles area and has published a book, "How to Talk With Your Child About Sexuality."

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