March 27, 2007 — -- Nearly 60,000 children are abducted by strangers each year. The majority of those are girls, who are also more frequently targeted for sexual attacks.
Now, Dallas Jessup and Catherine Wehage are taking a shot at stamping out violence against girls by teaching them the tools they need to fight back.
The 15-year-olds have produced a free video, "Just Yell Fire," starring some of television's biggest names, including Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly from "Lost."
"My cousin is a set designer from 'Lost,' and he hooked it up. We really wanted a celebrity endorsement because even though we'd like to deny it, girls are very highly influenced by celebrities," Wehage said. "My cousin talked to these two, and they did cameos for it right away."
The girls played a big part in the making of the video as well. Jessup has a black belt in tae kwon do and is certified in Filipino street fighting.
"Filipino street fighting is no rules street fighting. It includes slaps, pulls and ear pulls," Jessup said. "This sounds animalistic and vulgar, but it is just self-defense, it is economical and useful. An attacker is trying to do something violent to you, so you have to respond in the same way."
Wehage explained that viewers didn't need years of training to master the easy techniques taught in the video.
"The viewer can learn these in just a matter of minutes. And anyone can learn it, from a small 11-year-old to an adult woman. They are just 10 easy-to-learn moves. This is why we made this video. Not everyone has the three years it takes to get to black belt," she said. "And our video is free because a lot of girls don't have the resources to buy the advanced-training courses. This is a free way to learn how to protect yourself on the street."
The title of the video came from the advice of the girls' Filipino street fighting instructor. When he was a kid, his dad told him to yell fire if anything ever went wrong, because it was bound to get a response.
"Nowadays when people hear 'Help,' it's so often yelled and no one cares. Or if someone says the word rape or abducted, other people are afraid," Wehage said. "When you yell 'Fire,' it draws the attention of onlookers."