When Brian Chaffin heard about the disappearance of a 12-year-old Golden City girl last month, it shook him to his core.
It's hard for Chaffin, or his wife Terry to talk about the Aug. 20 kidnapping and murder of Adriaunna Horton, being parents of eight children themselves.
“This is his passion,” Terry Chaffin said about her husband. “He teaches rape-escape, women's self defense courses. His passion is protecting children and women and teaching them to protect themselves. When that happened in Golden City, he didn't sleep all night.
“He talked to a lot of men in the company he worked for, he talked to the coaches and faculty here, and everybody was really broken up. Everybody was devastated by it and I think it was because it hit so close to home and she was such an innocent, sweet girl.”
Brian decided to do something about it. With the blessings of the Jasper Board of Education and Superintendent Rick Stark, Chaffin spent part of last week in the physical education classes at Jasper elementary schools, teaching 40 to 80 pound children in kindergarten through sixth grade how to get away from a kidnapper who may be much larger than them. Chaffin calls his program C.L.A.S.S., or Children Learning Awareness, Safety and Security.
“We're teaching them a concept we call drop, lock and roll,” Brian Chaffin said Wednesday between classes. “Basically, if someone were to try to accost them, they would be able to defend themselves. We're not teaching them to strike, we're not teaching them to fight, we're teaching them to be able to get out of situations that will put them in danger.”
Chaffin, a martial arts instructor for the past 24 years, spent several hours Wednesday with small children locked around his knees, knocking him to the ground in Tabler Gymnasium.
Then he took them outside to his minivan, where he taught them how to kick and yell and scream and make it as difficult as possible for an attacker to force them into that van.
“In a situation where someone's trying to gain power and control over them, and we've seen what the statistics say, if the kids fight back, they have more than a 50 percent chance of getting away from an attacker,” Chaffin said. “Because the attacker doesn't want to draw attention to themselves. We're teaching the kids to draw attention to themselves and then to be able to get away.”
With the kids volunteering, Chaffin would grab them around the waist, pick them up and try to force them into the van. The children in turn would kick, push and use their legs to push away from the vehicle.
The students came away with the feeling that they're not helpless in the face of a kidnapper.
Page 2 of 2 - “He's got a gift and he loves sharing this and loves teaching these classes,” Tracy Chaffin said. “The kids love it. Think about a little girl, but look at what she can do with leverage. She took him down, she can knock over a 200-pound man, then jump up and run away. When we started this, the looks on the kids faces was like, oh, no, there's nothing I can do. They find out real quick they can do something.”
David Davis, Jasper Elementary Principal, said Chaffin's classes are passing on useful information for the students and parents.
“I was out there listening to him and he gave them one good piece of advice, that we had when our kids were little, the family code,” Davis said. “We told our kids, you don't just go with someone who comes to pick you up, even if you know them. They're going to be there to pick you up by the instruction of me or mom, but they're going to have to give the code word. We had that when my kids were little. That's a big safety tool in itself.”
Chaffin said he would like for all families in Jasper to use safety words with their children to help keep them safe. He'd also like to take his C.L.A.S.S. Program to other schools as well.
“We would like for all schools to really take a deep look at this curriculum,” Chaffin said. “My goal is to certify all the coaches so they can teach this on their own so I or my guys that I've trained don't have to be at every single class.”