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This is not a post about changing the law so 18-year-olds can exercise their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. It’s not about equipping college kids with alternative weapons for self-defense such as a knife, baseball bat or pepper spray (legal in PA). Or putting them into a martial arts program before they leave the nest. It’s about teaching your children to have a bit of Bushido in them . . .

The young man in the video above is clearly, understandably rattled by the home invasion/robbery. He’s absolutely right: no possession is worth a human life. But Thomas Santarcangelo’s last statement is more than slightly worrying: “I guess we’re easy prey for people around here. It’s clear that we’re easy prey.”

Whether or not that’s true isn’t the point. It’s the mindset behind Santarcangelo’s statement that should raise red flags for parents with kids going to college. If your child sees him or herself as “easy prey” it’s a very short journey towards becoming easy prey.

The key word is “easy,” as in someone who’s not going to put up a fight. That’s not a label you want your kids to wear, internally or externally. In fact, if it was politically correct to say that people who see themselves as victims invite victimization I would. But it isn’t so I won’t. But I will say this . . .

Bad guys may have an innate and/or learned ability to know who’s going to submit to their threats, violence and demands. Unless they’re acting on impulse—and maybe even then—sizing-up their victims is what they do. If your child fits their profile your progeny will be in their crosshairs. And that’s a fact.

Maintaining situational awareness is excellent preventative medicine against violent attack. Bad guys look for people looking for them. They know that people who scan for threats usually have a plan to deal with those threats. They are not “easy prey.” Yes but—

Situational awareness isn’t that powerful. A criminal who ID’s a potential victim on the lookout for a threat may simply decide to use more cunning, speed or violence against their target. Bad guys are just as good at calculating the risk – reward ratio as a Wall Street banker.

Unfortunately, there’s no one “answer” to training your child to deal with a criminal or criminals attempting to steal their stuff, rape them, inflict other types of grievous bodily harm or take their life. Save this: your child should know that lethal threats exist, they can come out of nowhere and that it’s OK to counter that threat with lethal force.

I’m not going to say you should give your child permission to kill someone who poses a credible, imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm to them or other innocent life. But I am saying that they need to know that there comes a point when they must use maximum force against their aggressor. No holds barred. All in. NOW.

They also need to know that you will back them up afterwards, no matter what. As our kids go through their teenage years, we tend to forget how much they need our approval (deep down, I swear). If they know that you’re OK with violent self-defense, that you’ve got their back after a violent encounter, they will have more confidence going in.

There’s lots you can do to help your children understand that it’s alright to unleash the dogs of war when and where appropriate. Firearms familiarization is a definite plus–especially if you teach your kids that guns aren’t death rays. (There are worse things than being shot.) Team sports can provide invaluable instruction in the importance of perseverance under pressure.

However you couch it, whatever you do to reinforce it, make your children understand a simple idea: they are not a victim. Not before an attack, during it or after. They need to see themselves as fighters when they need to be. If and when they can be.

And when the crisis is over, your children should see themselves as victors. Nothing more and nothing less.

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  1. it’s an uncomfortable subject to talk to your kids about. i have kids and grandkids. sometimes i get the flopsweats thinking about some of the things i did as a young man. it’s hard to empart to your kids what it takes to win a life or death fight without going into details that would scare the crap out of them or change their way of looking at you. but you must for their sakes. a father can’t just hover over the kids to protect them. sooner or later they have to go out on their own. i know that as hard as it was for me to talk about these things my kids have a better understanding of what it takes to make it home safe again.

  2. For some reason, a lot of the kids i’ve seen dont have a lot of fight in them. I’ve been told (and somewhat agree) I’m a mean a-hole; but kids need to learn how to stickup for themselves or your gonna get walked all over. Gonna take my nieces back to the shooting range and boxing classes.

  3. Excellent article. Other useful books on survival mindset are (1) Jeff Copper’s Principles of Personal Defense, published by Paladin Press, (2) Massad Ayoob’s In the Gravest Extreme, self-published by The Police Bookshelf, (3) Defensive Living by Dave Spaulding and Ed Lovette, published by Looseleif Law (spelling?), (4) Ed Lovette’s The Snubby Revolver, published by Paladin Press; this book is truly more focused on mindset and tactics than the technology of the classic snub-nosed revolver and its modern variants. The author considers this book a nominal “second volume” to the book he co-authored with former Mid-West police lieutenant and training officer, Ed Spaulding. Ed Lovette’s background spans military service, law enforcement service, and service as a CIA Paramilitary Intelligence Officer wherein he served overseas in areas with serious assasination and kidnapping risks. Ed Lovette also was an instructor with International Training Incorporated (ITI), where he was involved in courses in “Street Crime Awareness” and anti-kidnapping. Essentially, his book the Snubby Revolver summarizes these very expensive courses which were offered to wealthy clients, who were buying an armored Mercedez-Benz for use in high-risk areas, such as South America’s still notorious “Andian Passport Zone (today, it’s stealth armored VW Jettas and Kevlar-lined, Columbian-taylored, three-piece suits…). Simply, these four books can provide a potentially useful mindset foundation based on hard, case law and officer-survival after-action reports in an approach which may be relevant for non-military/non-LEO scenarios. On the education and training side, one of the authors, Massad F. Ayoob, has a training school, the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG), wherein mindset is the foundation combined with legal foundation upon which private citizens may elect to build their “threat management” survival tactics which they must be able to justify in court in the potentially devastating legal aftermath in both the criminal and civil courts as well as in the so-called “court of public opinion,” by the typically anti-self-defense mass media. I don’t “own stock” in any of this, I am only here to provide these sources which might be of interest for independent study. Again, a fine article on a timely subject.

  4. For the last 15-20 years, at least, public schools have been indoctrinating children to not fight back. When a kid defends himself against a bully, both students are suspended for “fighting.” When faced with those greater potential consequences of fighing back, many potential victims have learned to just meekly accept their victimization.

    • Since both of my sons are now grown, married and moved away I am constantly worried about them but I do have the knowledge that I did teach them to stand up for themselves.
      Both are students of various forms of martial arts and have been repeatedly taught about firearms safety and use!!
      When my eldest son was in 8th grade he was being barraged and bullied by an older student(read spoiled brat jock) who didn’t like his long hair.
      One day the bully ran up behind him and kicked him in the back knocking him tot he ground on a gravel walkway. As taught he stood up, put a roundhouse kick into the back of the bullies thighs taking him down to the ground and basically sat on him and told him it either ended here or they could go ahead and finish it off of school property!! They are the best of friends now.
      But the school decided to expel my son for 7 days for fighting but not the bully since he was a Star Baseball player!!!
      Went to the school board, they upheld the expulsion, I moved him to a different school, told them to kiss my ass and published a letter in the local paper about the favoritism and biased ruling of the school board!!!
      Teach your kids right and wrong and how to and when to fight back.

  5. Good post Robert. Many of the young males that I see these days seem much more like an androgynous girly Justin Beber than a boyish Huckleberry Finn.

    Years ago in Berkeley California, at a copy shop, some bully was being really intimidating to a female customer. The four gentle male employees just stood back not sure what to do having been socialized that boys should not fight since fighting is wrong. The smaller female manager ended up being the one to walk up to the bully and telling him to get the hexx out of the store. Fifty years ago the response by four male employees would have been very different.

  6. “Freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle anywhere, at any time, and with utter recklessness.”
    I believe it is a Robert Heinlein quote, and he’s dead right.

  7. Both my wife and daughter are 5′-0″ tall Asian women, and I worry about them when they are out without me. Not so much my wife as she is a skilled knifefighter and studied kick boxing, but out daughter is such a girly girl, afraid she might break a fingernail type. I have had the talk about situational awareness with her, I have gone over several self defence techniques with her, but I really don’t know how much got in her brain. We do what we can do and hope it works.

  8. Some twerp popped my daughter in the mouth the first week of Kindergarten. We started her on TaiKwonDo when she was a little older and she is working her way up. She isn’t ready to take on Steven Seagall but I think she can take care of any playground bullies now.

  9. Schools are doing a wonderful job of training children to be victims — victims of schoolyard bullies, victims of situational predators and victims of the state. Then they tell the children that being a victim somehow makes them holy. However, fighting back makes them either “nonconformists” or morally inferior.

    There was a time when schools taught students how to think. Now schools teach them how to be drones.

    • Schools shouldn’t be teaching either because both are simply indoctrination.

      Our country rose to great levels when our schools simply taught the “three Rs”. We need to get back to that basic level of education and stop the indoctrination.

    • The media, law enforcement, and politicians do their part as it relates to adults, as well. Any time there’s a successful DGU or any sort of victory of victim over bad guy… they ALWAYS qualify any comments by stressing that they do not recommend fighting back. Ugh!

  10. After our son’s first encounter with a schoolyard bully, I told him that I expected him to do whatever was necessary to protect himself and that we would deal with any consequences later. He knew that that his mother and I were on his side unconditionally and would be his advocates should some government taxfeeder try to punish him for defending himself.

    • I saw first hand how ineffective administrators are when my girl came home with a bloody lip. I told her many times, Mom and Dad will deal with the grownups if you deal with the bully.

  11. Glock Pistols since 1988, and Gracie Jiu Jitsu since 1990. All six in my house know both. Wanna fight about it? 🙂

  12. “…they are not a victim”

    Good luck convincing kids these days of that. It’s possible, but difficult; you’ll be fighting the essence of modern society, which is fully devoted to making everyone a victim and dependent on their governmental overlords, as well as suppressing any “negative” feelings.

    In a time when we’re taught that self-defense is wrong, and young men are taught that they’re just plain old bad for having male instincts, it’s an uphill fight.

  13. My Dad had a couple simple rules for fighting:

    1. Don’t start fights. Finish them.
    2. The only fair fight is the one you win.

    This was followed up by 12 years of martial arts. Most any style will do, as most good schools teach self confidence, self control, awareness, and respect. Great traits for gun owners too.

    The only time I’ve physically used those skills, outside of friendly competition, was in the defense of others. Strangely, all the (few ) fights I ever got into somehow made the other guy want to be my friend afterwards….well, except one that, weeks later, got run over by a train. The Karma Train…

    chOO chOO!

  14. I have to admit, schools these days are so worried about being PC. MY lord the world isn’t equal, there are winners and losers! I don’t mean to sound harsh, but seriously two kids get some busted lip, have em work together to pickup garbage off the football field or something. Everyone sues everyone else, and schools are so fricken scared of being sued.
    What ever happened to those days. I know me personally I was brought up in a time just before everyone went victim crazy.

    • I was raised to be a survivor. My Dad’s rule if I got in a fight was that he would expect my opponent to be dead.
      Dad wasn’t kidding. He had grown up in a rough neighborhood and he explained that in any fight you are not a mind reader, you have no idea how far the other person is willing to take it. They may be willing to go all the way. He expected that if I got in a fight I would take it all the way if I had to.
      During my time in the Navy I saw several folks who thought they were getting in macho punch-ups only to suddenly find the other guy was willing to stab them, or jump on their heads when they were down, or have friends cold cock them as they squared up. On one occaision, all three.

  15. “There’s lots you can do to help your children understand that it’s alright to unleash the dogs of war when and where appropriate. ”

    I totally agree. As a teenager my parents gave me the same parameters to abide by and it saved my hide a couple of times from bullies and similar scum.

  16. Good article. This kid was obviously raised in a house where violence is never the answer.

    And the result was years of being bullied by much smaller kids, even though he had the power to stop it. There’s another video somewhere, where the dad actually says even though he’s glad the way things turned out, it’s nothing to be proud of. BS. If that was my kid I’d be damn proud.

  17. Wow, this topic has elicited a large # of posts!
    My 1st wife (the really hot one) was from SE Asia and stood about 4′ 8″, weighed 70 pounds, she was incredably quick and could lift me off the floor. Mary was aware that there are many Bad PPL in the world and was commited to never being a victim. As she took public transport at night while attending collage, Mary eschewed firearms in favor of a straight razor she carried. Ever try to disarm or attack someone holding a razor? One perp actually tried that on my wife, the perps blood stains ruined her clothing, boy was she upset!
    Victory and survival are a mind set that must be learned.


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