It’s clear: Violent crime and home invasions are increasing at a staggering rate. As a college student you are more exposed than most. You live in a home you likely don’t own; your schedule keeps you out of the house for long periods of time; you’re young, attractive and likely to have some alcohol in your system at times; your heavy school and part time work schedule makes you more apt to have your mind on things other than your surroundings…these are all attractive qualities in a “victim” to a criminal.
But there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself protected and avoid being part of a statistic or the subject of a news headline.
It’s important to understand where you face risk and do those things necessary to prevent those risks, without altering your lifestyle to the point of discomfort or difficulty.
Criminals want easy targets. It’s not as difficult as it may seem, to be a hard target. Once you implement a good safety plan, it’s mostly a passive affair, which allows you to continue your hectic schedule of classes, work, and of course, your social life.
A few steps to keep you safe:
- Know your surroundings.
Understand where you are going and where people can hide or where you could be secluded. This includes clubs, your own home, city streets, or even the library. If you know what to expect and have a way to remove yourself from a potential threat, you’ll be in a better position than the others around you. If you can’t be sure of a specific area (like say a house party in a neighborhood you don’t know), then bring friends: people you trust who think the same way you do, and stay within shouting/viewing distance of them. If you feel uncomfortable tell someone.
- Be aware of what is going on around you.
Watch what is going on around you. If suddenly you are in a place without anyone else around except that guy with the hoodie on and his hands in his pockets, you are not in as safe a position as you were when there were others around. When a criminal knows you see them, or a stalker sees you taking action to avoid confrontation, they then become worried about being found out. Criminals have to rely on the shadows and protection from the public view. Take that advantage away from them by keeping your own eyes open to threats. Security and Law Enforcement professionals call these tactics “Situational Awareness” and they work.
- Use the features and items you have at your disposal.
Remember that Pepper Spray your father sent you last April? Check out a couple of instructional videos on YouTube and learn how to use it. If you feel uncomfortable take the safety off and get it ready: Criminals don’t like resistance and there is likely an easier victim close by. How about those locks on the windows? Keep them locked, or cut a piece of dowel rod (a cylindrical piece of wood with a small diameter) and stick it in the bottom track of the windows to make it harder to get into your place through the windows. The door lock is also a must. Make it a habit to lock it when you are leaving as well as when you are home. Having a physical obstacle between you and the criminal will likely make them move on to an easier target.
These three items are simple and help you to overcome most incidents where you could be a victim.
For the past 10+ years Jonathan Halloran-Koren has dedicated himself as a professional in the disaster recovery, emergency management, intelligence, privacy and security fields in various professional, academic, and volunteer positions. He is currently the Managing Director of United Global Risk Associates, Inc.