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Archive for category Campus safety
Young women, aged 18-24, attending college, are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than the general population.
According to RAINN, 23.1 percent of female students experience rape or sexual assault via physical force, violence, or incantation.
That’s a little over one in 5 young women … and those are only the ones we know of. The real number is much higher.
This is why addressing women’s personal safety on campus is paramount.
It is imperative that we inform our daughters what they’re really up against — and how to better protect themselves.
Common sense tips such as “use the buddy system” and “don’t walk home alone at night” are valuable and have their place. However, those tips ignore the fact that, according to the University of Michigan, most sexual assaults are committed by someone we already know and trust, and most assaults happen in familiar surroundings. Hence, the term “Acquaintance Rape.”
Most young woman and their parents find this fact counterintuitive, but once they understand it, are able to put in place powerful strategies to not become another statistic.
Remember, the mind is the most powerful weapon.
When you change your “mental setting” from “prey” to “powerful” – that energy permeates though your body language, and shows up as confidence and strength.
Use your mind, body language, and strategy to develop “command presence” – this will broadcast to the world that you are not an easy target, which is the best deterrent against opportunistic, predatory fellow students and acquaintances,who are the most common offenders!! (Think: Entitled Frat Boys!)
We know the buddy system is always recommended, but the larger the group, the better. Go out together, and come home together. Leave no one behind. At parties or events, agree to check in with each other at pre-determined times. Use the buddy system when going to the bathroom, or to retrieve a coat from a back room. Why? This how a lone young woman gets dragged into a room and assaulted.
What is your plan if you think you or a friend have been drugged? Do you have a pre-determined “distress code” to alert the other members of your group? Have you rehearsed the power of your numbers, and the strength of your loud voices together to create a scene that would deter anyone with bad intent?
Walking home at night will happen. But again, walk in a group. Carry yourselves with confident presence and scan your surroundings – just two of several presentations that victim selection studies reveal you as “harder targets.”
Don’t be shy to ask TWO trusted young men within your peer group to walk with you – but don’t let your guard down.
There is no one magic bullet that will keep you or your young woman 100% safe on campus. But the more strategies you put in place, the safer you will all be.
Parents, you should all know what the Cleary Act is, and why it is so critical in choosing a school that is entrusted with your daughter’s safety.
– Jennifer Kaminer, 9 February 2017
If you will be working late, be sure to move your vehicle to a well light parking place that is closest to the door by which you will exit before it gets dark.
Do not leave valuables in view inside your car.
Try and leave the building with co workers if possible. The buddy system leaves you less vulnerable.
A small high intensity flashlight is helpful for illuminating the area around and under your vehicle, and allows you to check the back seat before unlocking and getting in.
Have your keys in your hands before you leave the building and remember to use the panic button on your key fob if you sense something is amiss.
Try and walk down the middle of the parking aisle keeping as much distance between you and the parked cars on either side. Don’t take shortcuts between vehicles.
Always walk with purpose and scan your surroundings.
Once in your vehicle, lock the doors immediately and get underway.
Always trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about walking out to your vehicle don’t!
I had the opportunity to read Stop Signs authored by my friend Lynn Fairweather who is a threat assessment and domestic violence expert. As a personal safety trainer and consultant and father of two daughters, I was particularly eager to read this book and share the “golden nuggets” with them and those I interact with on a professional level.
I found this book to be well balanced. While I have read several books on domestic violence, I have never seen one as comprehensive as Stop Signs. The book is segmented into three equal parts devoted to recognizing, avoiding, and escaping dating / domestic abuse and violence. It therefore applies to all women: those who have never been abused, those who are currently being abused, and those that have left an abuser.
This book serves as a resource, a safety plan, and offers self-help empowerment all in one. It is an intuitive read and also gives voice to survivors in dialog boxes that are strategically placed to drive home the teachable moments. This style is in keeping with Lynn’s “lived experience” as she too is a survivor of domestic violence and is therefore able to bring a personal as well as a professional perspective to the topic.
Who should read this book and keep it on the shelf as a domestic violence resource? Anyone from a mother with young daughters, to someone in an abusive relationship all the way over to a threat assessment / security professional or HR personal in the corporate sector.
The book is available at Amazon.
Lynn is the founder and president of Presage Consulting & Training, an Oregon based organization specializing in fatality reduction through threat assessment and management.
Lynn’s contact details appear below.
Lynn Fairweather, M.S.W.
Presage Consulting and Training
Think back to the documentary on television where the lioness is hunting. She stalks a herd of deer as they approach a water hole. She waits in the same place because she knows that the deer, being highly predictable, will come by at the same time every day. They must do so to drink.
As she moves in, she stays well hidden and singles out her target; usually the very young or very old, the sick member of the herd or the animal least aware of its surroundings! They are easy or “soft targets”. The inattentive animal doesn’t look up from grazing and hardly scans its surroundings. This is the animal that is also not listening and clearly does not know what is going on behind it. The lioness is much attuned to the body language of the inattentive. So are human predators!
If she is not hunting under her preferred cover of darkness, she will try to have the sun behind her so the herd is blinded making her even more difficult to see. She moves in as close as she can and then launchers her attack from behind, her victim’s blind spot. If possible she will run her prey toward a terrain feature such as a steep embankment to be sure she channels it in the direction of her choosing. By the time her victim realizes what is going on its too late and the attack is complete.
If her intended prey starts to pay more attention to its surroundings and moves back into the middle of the herd where it will find safety in numbers, the lioness will wait, pass over what has now become a “hard target” and look again for an easy mark. This is called the victim selection process and is not unlike the process human predators go through. Victims are chosen, the process is not random and the attack plan well thought out.
Human predators operate in much the same way. Their ideal target too exhibits the three elements that make them “a victim looking for a place to happen”; lack of awareness of surroundings, predictability of schedule, and placing themselves alone in an isolated environment.
Some Tips and Safety Strategies to Consider now that it is Getting Darker Earlier
- If you run with one or two buddies, you are safer and have made those isolated areas less of a threat. This is even more important in early morning and evening low light hours.
- If you walk or run on different trails on different days at slightly different times with you buddy team you have exponentially hardened your target profile. Remember, predictability is one of your enemies.
- Hearing is your parallel primary protective special sense. It’s on par with vision, so leave the head phones at home. People who have had close calls often tell us they heard someone coming up behind them before they saw them, giving them time to react.
- If you must run alone, choose busier well light streets and run FACING traffic, making it difficult for a vehicle to pull along side. Also let someone know your route and the time you expect to return.
- Always know where your “safe havens” are located. This could be a busy coffee shop or retail area, a well light parking lot or even a knowing at which homes along the route people are home.
- Always bring your cell phone with you and be sure to keep track of any areas where there is weak or no signal. Place it in a small Ziploc bag if you are worried about moisture.
- If you carry pepper spray, carry it in your hand with a wrap band. It will only be of help to you if you can bring it to bear and discharge in an instant. Buy fogger sprayers NOT stream dispensers!
- One of the best “things” you can bring on a run or walk is a dog. Regardless of size, they are good early warning systems and are just another layer of complications for a would be assailant.
- If it’s cold wear earmuffs, NOT a hoodie which robs you of peripheral vision. Hoodies can also be grabbed and used as a “handle” by which to control you.
- Remember that the most important area to be aware of is the blind spot behind you. The place ambush or blitz attacks are launched from.
- Carrying a small personal alarm is preferred by some as is a small very high intensity flashlight that can temporarily blind an assailant and illuminate those dark areas that offer great hiding places. These items can be easily clipped onto your waistband which is where your cell phone should be too.
Social Media and your Personal Safety
- Do not plan runs or announce rendezvous points to your exercise buddies via any social media or networking platform
- If you want to post about a pleasant exercise outing, do so after the fact and keep the details, especially the route and location very vague.
The Danger of Complacency
At this very moment and as you read this would be criminals or predators are not your primary enemy. Complacency is. Do not fall into a false sense of security telling yourself “We live in a good area” or “Nothing bad ever happens here”. Anything can happen anywhere. Don’t take chances. Implement your strategy and engage it with discipline. Be smart. Be safe and stay healthy!!
Reuters recently cited findings from a study by Legal & General, a multinational financial services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. The company was looking into the impact social media has on risk with regard to property and content. The report was called the “Digital Criminal”
Legal & General polled 2,092 people:
- 38%- posted where and when they were going on their next vacation
- 33%- posted where and when they would be on the upcoming weekend
Of 100 “friend requests” sent out during the study
- 13 percent were accepted on Facebook – without any checks.
- 92 percent on Twitter — without any checks.
Obviously Legal & General’s concern is revolves around risk to property and theft as people share way too much information online to include photos of the interior of their homes and valuables.
(More on the Reuters article written by Belinda Goldsmith)
Employees and Family Personal Safety
It goes without saying that broadcasting where we will be or where we presently are at in real time, gives another set of criminals, those that would want to do harm to you, a family member or one of your employees, easy targeting opportunities.
Despite good access control and security which makes your place of work much safer, social media is offering alternate non-worksite targeting venues and opportunities as employees broadcast where they will be and at what times.
A perpetrator might be a disgruntled worker or the batterer of one of your staff. The incidences of opportunistic targeting, which can lead to stalking, also increase with careless use of social networks.
Social Media Security and Safety Tips: Common Sense but Not Commonly Adhered To
- Spend a moment vetting “friend” requests. The fact that you have “mutual friends” with someone you know well means nothing given the information revealed in the above study.
- Never let people know where you are or will be; only where you were of have been! This includes posting photos upon return from an outing or vacation.
- Try and be vague about where you have been and what time you were there. This makes it more difficult for someone to build a predictive profile on your habits and patterns.
- Be cognizant of which photos you are included in and ask friends not to “tag” you.
- Never tag your children in any photos.
- Turn off the GPS feature on your Smart Phone before you use its camera. If not, the coordinates of where the photo was taken will remain embedded in the image code.
- Think like a criminal. The layout of your home and valuables that appear in the background of any photo are useful pieces of information.
- Be sure to disable the GPS feature on individual apps as well. If not, your location will be broadcast with each post or Tweet once again leaving a convenient trail as to your patterns and habits.
- Ask yourself who benefits when you “Check in” via a location based app? We have polled audiences during our trainings. 95% of them say they really don’t care where you are and what you are doing. The only people that care as much as you are the criminal element mining social networking platforms for easy targets.
- Is the “Out of Office” reply really necessary? It is often the data point that alerts prying eyes to start tracking you online, since they know you are not at work.