“Do you think we need to be so aware even if we live in a ’safe’ area with very low crime rates? Or are we never truly safe?”
✦ If you had asked kids at Columbine High School on April 19, 1999, if they felt safe at school, don’t you think most would have said, “Sure it’s safe here.”?
✦ If you had asked students at Virginia Tech April 15, 2007, if they felt safe on their campus, don’t you think most would have said, “Yeah, it’s a safe campus.”?
✦ If you had asked soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood on November 4, 2009, if they felt safe on base, don’t you think most would have said, “We feel secure here.”?
Yep, this is a myth:
“Where I live is safe, so I don’t need to lock my house or car or take as many precautions as someone who lives in a bad neighborhood.”
Places exist with low crime rates. It’s great to be able to live in them. However, while some places have a reduced quantity of crime, the “quality” can still be very high. If an area has a low crime rate, it doesn’t mean every crime there is a petty offense. Murder, rape, or a multiple-shooting incident may not happen with frequency, but they can and do happen.
Crime in Paradise
I lived in Aspen, Colorado, for a number of years in the 1980s. Even with a huge influx of skiers during the high tourist season, the crime rate was low, but the crimes committed and the criminals who came through there were quite brutal. They included:
- A car bomb placed under the driver’s seat designed to maim the driver for a slow, lingering death
- A multi-shot sniper attack on a vehicle as a man took revenge on his former partner
- An escape from custody by serial rapist Ted Bundy (who was later recaptured in the area)
No place is unconditionally safe.
Even American presidents — the people with the safest protection in the world — are not immune to crime. Presidents have been shot and wounded or killed.
What do we do?
So should we be looking over our shoulders fearfully, living in the land of Paranoia, and never trusting anyone again? Only if you want to make yourself more vulnerable by creating a mind-numbing state of stress that spikes to Panic Mode as a default reaction.
Nope, you must scratch off “Freaking out” and yelling “The sky is falling!” from your to-do list.
So what is a person to do?
Make personal safety a life skill like shopping, cooking, or parenting.
- If you are an avid bargain hunter, you have an eye out for deals online or when scanning the newspaper.
- If you are an avid cook, you gravitate toward cooking shows, cook books, or great recipes.
- If you parent, you have a huge investment in kids’ safety and getting them to adulthood as best you can.
All of these tie into one thing — habits. Self defense is the same.
Think of safety and self defense skills like driving skills.
When you slip into a car and start driving, you may be the best driver in the world, but does that make you safe? No. Why not? Other drivers.
Now, not every other driver is going to cause a wreck, just like not every person is going to be a criminal.
But as a driver, you take precautions. Many are so ingrained you may not even realize you are doing them. You check the mirrors without thinking, buckle your seat belt with your mind elsewhere, and shift lanes to avoid potholes as a habitual pattern.
Keeping safe with a self defense mindset is similar. You stay in code yellow as a default awareness level and:
- Scan or “feel” the environment as a habit without thinking.
- Pay attention to odd behaviors even while doing something else.
- Avoid vulnerable situations as a habitual pattern.
To steal from Forrest Gump, “Safe is as safe does.”
Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
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