By Sarla Donovan
Martial arts schools are running special self-defence classes after an abduction attempt in Christchurch suburb of Parklands.
Police were called last month after a man in a white van attempted to abduct children on their way to Queenspark School.
A similar van was sighted outside Waitakiri School several days later.
The Ministry of Education sent a trauma specialist to Queenspark and both schools have asked parents to be mindful of the need to keep children safe while travelling to and from school.
Police have not yet made an arrest in connection with the incident.
In response, Shizoku Martial Arts has been offering free kids self-defence classes at Queenspark School.
Owner and head instructor Chris Cameron has two children at Queenspark and said he wanted to give back to the community.
Up to 80 Kiwi children were abducted or kidnapped last year, Mr Cameron said, which demonstrated how important it was to know something about self-defence.
"It's a no-brainer to at least give them some broad-based tips; it can make them more confident and give them a chance if they get into a difficult situation."
Mr Cameron said he thought it should be treated like swimming and become a core requirement at all schools.
He would look at offering the free sessions "as long as there is a need," and was also planning to introduce longer, four-week self-defence courses for kids and adults.
Go-Kan-Ryu Karate also ran a special safety awareness and self-defence workshop on Queen's Birthday weekend and has another one planned.
GKR Karate regional manager Anthony Kaiaruna said 22 children attended, aged from five to 13, including some from the Parklands area. "A few parents got involved, too, which was great."
They learned how to get out of hand grabs and bear hugs, to be aware of their surroundings and practised drills like 'the rocket' and 'the surfer', a method of getting up off the ground quickly by kicking your feet and pushing up as if on a surfboard.