As the mother of two teenaged daughters, Charlotte Welch is constantly concerned about their safety. She sees them on their cell phones, posting pictures to social media and warns them over and over again about the dangers of putting too much personal information “out there.”
“It’s a scary world,” Charlotte said. “I tell my girls all the time not to put everything on Facebook because not everybody is necessarily your friend. I don’t want to frighten them, but I do want to educate. They’ve got to understand certain things before going out into the great big world out there.”
Not everyone on social media sites (such as Facebook and Instagram) is necessarily a friend, she said, adding that the person young girls are chatting with could be a stranger who is learning their patterns and behavior, and could be lying in wait to cause them harm.
Charlotte grew up in an era when her parents knew her friends, either from the neighborhood, school or church. With social media, it’s not the same world. “We don’t have that [safety net] anymore as parents,” she said.
Nevertheless, years ago, Charlotte knew a couple of girls who were assaulted and their lives were changed forever. “It was horrible,” she recalled.
Charlotte insists she’s not teaching her daughters to be paranoid; she simply wants them to be aware. At the same time, she said, “There’s nothing wrong with having a little fear. Most teenagers think they’re invincible. How many times have you seen girls walking down the street staring at their cell phones, unaware of what’s going on around them? I want to ask, ‘Is a Facebook post that important to you?’”
Charlotte herself took a kick-boxing class once and liked being empowered, and wants her daughters and their friends to feel the same.
They say timing is everything, so when a fellow mom happened to ask Charlotte if she knew of a self-defense class, the wheels started turning inside Charlotte’s head. She put on her thinking cap and remembered that the dad of one of her daughter’s classmates owns SERG Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“Michael Sergi is a super nice dad, so I called him and asked him if he’d put together a class for mothers and daughters,” Charlotte said. As a result, a series of self-defense and self-awareness classes for moms and daughters will begin later this summer at Michael’s studio in Habersham Village.
“Charlotte reached out to me with this idea and I think it’s fabulous,” said Michael, who has been teaching jui jitsu for nearly 17 years. Many of his students compete, but there are people out there (like moms and daughters) who are interested in learning self-defense moves, he said.
Charlotte has told the women interested in the classes that the sessions will be all about people “getting in your personal space” and “getting out of sticky situations.”
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