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Personal safety tips
 

Question

Dad - sometimes I am afraid when I have to walk home at night? What can I do to be safe?

 

Dad's response:

Each hour, 75 women are raped in the United States, and every few seconds, a woman is beaten. Each day, 400 Americans suffer shooting injuries, and another 1,100 face criminals armed with guns. In Europe, violent crime rates are much lower, but you still should not ignore the danger. Here are a few tips that might help to protect yourself:

Avoid certain places! There are huge differences in crime rates between geographical regions. Usually, rural areas have much lower violent crime rates than urban areas. The latest official murder statistic for the US shows that you are 6 to 10 times more likely to be a murder victim in Louisiana, New Mexico or Maryland than in Iowa, Vermont or New Hampshire (see figure below). There are also enormous differences in crime rates within cities. Avoid districts or places that are known to be dangerous.

 

USA: Violent Crime Rate per 100,000 of population by State, 2012

Homicide Rate per 100,000 of Population by Country, 2010/2012

Geographical distribution of murder in New York City, 2003 -2011

Lipton, G. et al. (2013) The Geography of Violence ... (Am. Journal of Public Health)

Don't go out late at night on your own. Just because something appears to be a platitude it must not be wrong. In many cities it is really much more dangerous at night than during daytime - simply because thugs often prefer darkness, bars release drunken brawlers, and chances are lower that someone would help the victim, since streets are less crowded. There is a clear temporal pattern of violent crime. Always take a taxi when you have to go somewhere late at night. Even if you pay a lot, it is much less than what you can lose in a crime.

Micro-spatial and temporal patterns of violent crime (Applied Geography)

"Evidence from Cardiff and Worcester shows primary clusters at night in the pub/club leisure zones; and secondary clusters during the shopping day in major retail streets. Disorder data also reveal subsidiary afternoon clusters near licensed premises, and a late-night confluence flashpoint at a node of pedestrian activity." (Nelson / Bromley / Thomas: Identifying micro-spatial and temporal patterns of violent crime and disorder in the British city centre. Applied Geography, Vo. 21, Issue 3, July 2001, p. 249-274)

Walk away if you feel uncomfortable! Have some "street smarts"! If you feel uneasy with the people around you, don't be embarrassed to get away as quickly as possible. Trust your instincts! Fear is your best protection against violence. Don't be stupid or "politically correct" when it comes to your safety. Better be rude than a victim!

Don't be a hero! If you are threatened respond calmly and in a "matter-of-fact" way. If you observe "trouble" walk away and then immediately call the police. You are not a crime fighter! Leave it to the professionals. The best tactic in any confrontation is to run.

If your life is at stake and there is absolutely no other option defend yourself with all the force you have. Women often restrain themselves in defense. If you have to fight for your life inflict maximum damage on your attacker at the first strike! You usually don't have a second chance! Forget about fighting fair! Smash the attackers nose with your head (your scull is MUCH harder than the bones in any attackers face). If you can, punch the attacker in the throat! It only takes 15 pounds of force to crush a larynx. Bite and scratch with your finger nails. Law enforcement can use the DNA as evidence. Cry out for help as loud as you can! First cry "fire", because people may take this more serious.

 

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Gavin de Becker (2000)
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Copyright 2014, 2015 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.

Updated: 3 February 2015