A recent child abduction was the catalyst for a Cardinal Ritter College Prep English teacher to organize a self-defense class for your women Sunday at the school.

Dr. Celeste McCormick-Muhammad normally teachers eleventh- and twelfth-graders advanced English, but this weekend she was making sure they learned something far more vital to their safety.

McCormick-Muhammed said it was a different world growing up as a young girl.

“My parents never thought that they would have to prepare me. They taught me to be watchful,” she said. “But now we’re at a day and age where girls have to be prepared at all times.”

In January, a 12-year-old girl left home to walk to the bus stop and was missing for three days. She was found injured, traumatized and alone in a vacant building in north St. Louis.

Sunday’s self-defense class was geared toward teaching women the skills they need so they can escape those kinds of situations. Ricky Muhammad led the class that nearly two dozen young ladies showed up for.

The instructor said, the mindset the girls need to have is simple.

“It has to be life or death, because somebody’s trying to take your life,” said Muhammed

One of the girls in the class was 16-year-old Na’ima Kemper. Her mother watched the class from the bleachers.

“The fact that she walks to school, I’m constantly worried for pedophiles or anybody who’s seeking to do her harm,” said Taneka Wingo, Na’ima’s mother.

As for Kemper, she said walking to school isn’t that big of a deal for her, because she knows to be vigilant.

“You never know what’s going to happen, so you always have to stay prepared for if someone tries to come up and do something to you,” said Kemper.

Kemper and the other girls learned basic boxing technique, how to defend against a front choke, and how to get out of other situations they could leave them fighting for their lives.

Ultimately, Kemper said, if she ever finds herself in a situation where someone is trying to abduct or harm her she will be prepared to do what it takes to walk away alive.

“I was taught that if anyone tries to take anyone from you that you don’t want them to take; kill ‘em,” said Kemper.

The number one thing the instructors and organizers of Sunday’s class want the girls to walk away with is the understanding that it is vital to be aware of your surroundings.

Muhammed said, simply being vigilant can protect them from having to use the skills they learned.

McCormick-Muhammed would like to hold more classes later this year.