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Ursula Buchnat (right) battles Officer Chris Lopez during a women's self-defense class. Lopez is wearing a protective suit that he designed. The class was put on by the Schererville Police Department Nov. 25, 2013.

SCHERERVILLE — It won’t be your typical mother-daughter bonding experience, but it could be one that saves a life.

The Schererville Police Department will host a free self-defense class for mothers and daughters, ages 15-17, from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Schererville Community Center.

Under the direction of certified tactical self-defense instructors, pairs will learn and perform a variety of self-defense skills such as how to escape holds, chokes and grabs and basic striking techniques. The class will also address warning signs to look out for and how not to be vulnerable.

This is the second year the mother-daughter class is taught by police. Officer Chris Lopez said the program is part of the department’s ongoing efforts to keep the community safe.

“Having these conversations after something happens is too late. Bottom line. Being reactive in a situation is too late,” said Lopez, who will help lead the upcoming class. “We want everyone to be proactive.”

Lopez has nearly 20 years experience with Schererville Police. He is a U.S. Marine combat veteran and is a physical tactics instructor for the department.

With February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Lopez said the class will provide a perfect opportunity to discuss unhealthy relationships, warning signs of an abuser, dating violence and how to protect yourself.

Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year, according to loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. One in 10 teens has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“Sometimes it takes someone else to tell the kids this information for them to really listen and take it seriously,” Lopez said.

Participants can register up to the day of the free class by picking up an application at the Schererville Police Department, located at 25 E. Joliet St. Space is limited.

Those that attend the class are advised to wear comfortable clothing and closed-toed shoes.

While it is serious, Lopez said the upcoming course will also be a fun one for mother-daughter duos.

“The best part is the surprised looks you’ll see when we start flipping each other in the class,” Lopez said.

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