In 1994, the principal of Norman high school, Dan ‘Poppa’ Quinn, identified the many social pressures and difficulties faced by the young woman in his school through inappropriate, difficult and even violent relationships. At that time, Norman police officers worked for the Norman public school system to provide security and resource support. One of the officers working at the schools had training in martial arts, defensive tactics, and had a good rapport with students, staff and faculty at the high school. The officer's name was Robert ‘Bob’ Moore. Dan asked the officer to develop a program to focus on rape prevention, violence prevention and self-defense for the young women in his school. Officer Moore developed a program and began implementing it later that year, facilitating those classes with school counselors at Norman High School. The program focused primarily upon basic physical self-defense techniques, awareness and a variety of safety rules, very similar in its training and structure to courses developed by the majority of police departments and self-defense instructors across the country.
The development of the first program for the school system began a long and storied relationship and partnership between the Norman Police Department and the Norman Public School System. This partnership helped create greater opportunities, interactions and communications between police officers, educators and the community that they served. As the program continued at the high school level, additional concerns, problems and needs were identified, shared and addressed through this partnership. One of the largest difficulties faced by the program was the limited response and reactive nature of this type of prevention education program.
In 2006, Officer Moore requested that another officer be trained to help teach the program. Officer Moore selected Officer Marcus Savage. Officer Savage brought his own experiences and knowledge with him; a bachelor's degree in psychology, a SWAT team member, a peer support team member, a crisis intervention team member, tactics based upon his years in training as a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant with two combat tours of the Middle East and a father of three daughters and two sons. Officer Savage interned and trained for several years, adapting and adding to the program to an extent that allowed him to become one of the developers of the final program.
The middle school principal who requested the first changes in the program, Darien Quattlebaum-Moore, became the final developer of the program. The program was broadened and enhanced due to the years of experience, education, practice, analysis and input that she provided for the program. Darien brought a high level of management, education and leadership ability to the program and its development. Though retired from education, Darien continues to provide structure and organization for the program and presentation in its many forms.
The program has continued to improve as the number of students and classes continues to grow. Officer Moore wrote and published two books to facilitate the education and training of others to teach this program and take it to communities all across Oklahoma. Two more officers were interned and trained to teach this program, Officers Pendleton and Vassar, increasing the ability of the police department to address the needs and requests of our community. These final two officers were the last to be trained using this method. In 2012, two instructor schools were presented to police officers, counselors and rape prevention specialists from across Oklahoma. These instructor schools have increased the ability of our program to be received by an increasing number of women, both youth in the schools and adults in the community. The program itself is now divided into 10 modules; introduction, awareness, empowerment, relationships, self-esteem and abuse, alcohol and drugs, date/acquaintance rape, violent rape, cyber cautions and closure. Each module is approximately an hour in length. The modular structure of the program allows us to address specific problems and/or difficulties identified by the target group, as well as offer the entire class in one day or over many days. The structure also allows us to teach specific topics or address specific concerns of the population by request, such as boundaries, self-esteem, bullying, cyber bullying, etc. The school system has utilized the modular nature of the program to provide presentations on a variety of topics to students, staff, parents and the community at large. This has helped to increase the awareness, cooperation and response to violence in the schools and create a better partnership between all of the parties involved; schools, police, students, parents and community.
The school systems have taken an unusual stance in accepting and promoting this program. Schools usually maintain a zero tolerance policy toward violence of any kind. The school districts have reviewed and accepted the tactical techniques and responses presented through this program to enable women to protect their bodies and their lives. The physical techniques are violent, but utilize the most appropriate level of physical response to the type of violence directed at the individual. The school systems have recognized that protection of body and life, especially with violence against women continuing to increase, is a necessary lesson for young women within the school system.
My Body…My Life… is the title of our program. The title describes what we want to facilitate, the ability of every woman of every age to protect her body and her life. Our program is currently accepted and taught in every middle school and high school, as well as in the Moore-Norman Technology Center, in Norman, Oklahoma. These venues encompass two separate school districts. Our officers teach this program in our public schools throughout the school year, on a continuous basis. Our officers also teach to sororities and student groups from the University of Oklahoma, women's organizations, clubs, church groups and businesses in and around Norman, Oklahoma. The developers of the program have presented My Body…My Life… to hundreds of organizations, schools, businesses and conferences throughout Oklahoma. We believe that we have positively affected the lives of thousands of women in Oklahoma who have taken or viewed our program.
The Norman Police Department and the Norman Public School System have also begun to address the male gender with a second program developed through the cooperation of these fine organizations and the developers of My Body…My Life…. The male counterpart of the My Body…My Life…program is called REAL (Relationship Education and Awareness for Life) Men. Utilizing a majority of the original program content, the men’s program also focuses upon respect, non-violent bystander interventions and facilitating a change in cultural bias and acceptance, rather than teaching specific defensive tactical maneuvers. The program seeks to empower men through education and understanding with the premise that men are considered to be the primary aggressors in issues dealing with violence against women, but they can be targets of violence as well.
The Norman Police Department and the Norman Public Schools have addressed issues of violence against women and issues of violence against children for many years. The partnership developed between these organizations and the community they serve has increased the ability and capacity for the organizations to address these issues more appropriately and completely. The programs for both young women and young men will continue to expand and will be experienced by more students each year. In the school year 2012-2013, nearly a thousand students in the Norman Public Schools will have participated in these programs. When the program started, we believed that if we could reach just one student in each class and help them to protect their body and their life, we would have achieved success. Through the evaluations and feedback we have received over the years, we believe that we have reached thousands of young men and women and have changed and improved their lives for the future.