The lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic may have slowed life down just a little. However, it didn’t do much for America’s surging crime rates. According to the latest statistics from the Council of Criminal Justice, which released its mid-year 2022 crime report in July examining crime data from 29 U.S. cities, violent crimes and drug offenses have increased. But can forms of self-defense keep you safe in the face of rising crime dangers?
The statistics showed that aggravated assaults and robberies increased by 4% and 19%, respectively, while property crimes rose 6%, larceny by 20%, residential burglaries by 6%, and motor vehicle thefts by 15%. These numbers are hardly comforting. Even though homicides decreased slightly by 2% in the first six months of 2022, it is less satisfying when you see that homicides hit historic highs in some cities in 2020 and 2021.
How Can You Take Charge of Your Own Safety?
Crime rates may go up or down. Still, crime affects everyone regardless of the type of neighborhood in which they may live. Crime transcends economic and racial divides. Anyone can become a victim of a crime at any time. To avoid such a horrific scenario, it may be necessary for each one of us to take charge of our own safety and practice basic self-defense. While no guarantee will prevent you from being victimized, it can help lower the possibility of becoming a victim.
Safety experts seem to agree that the best way to protect yourself is to not put yourself in a position where you may have to defend yourself. There are ways in which you can avoid dangerous situations. Knowing how to defend yourself if you are in a dangerous situation is also a good idea.
Here are a few tips that can help you avoid such a situation:
Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Never let your guard down, even if you believe you are walking in a safe neighborhood. For example, don’t leave your front door unlocked or place valuables in your vehicle, even if you believe you live in a safe neighborhood. Do not walk through dark, isolated areas on your own. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Trust your instincts. Your instincts will often tell you when a situation is dangerous or is becoming dangerous. Listen to what your faculties are telling you. When something “doesn’t seem or feel right,” remove yourself from that situation safely and as soon as possible.
Act sharp and confident. Other people can often tell whether you are the kind that is sharp and focused or scattered and inattentive. Predators often look for “prey” that appears weak and distracted. Criminals are typically looking for victims who are low-hanging fruit or people they can easily victimize. Do not be that person. When you walk down the street, make eye contact with people who look at you, which could send them the message that you are aware of their presence, and in some situations, even their intentions.
Understand how alcohol or drugs can affect you. There is no doubt that alcohol and drugs could impair your judgment and dull your senses. It causes individuals to lose their inhibitions and sometimes even become aggressive.
Self-Defense Tips for Women
Statistics show that an estimated 91% of rape and sexual assault victims are female. While it makes sense for everyone to be aware of techniques they can use to stay safe, here are some tips, especially for women:
Use your senses. Do not be an easy target. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not walk with headphones or while talking to someone on the phone. This means you won’t be able to pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. For example, you may not hear footsteps of someone approaching you from behind. Keep your head up and watch where you are going.
Dress for an easy getaway. If you plan on walking home alone or expect to be in a situation that can be risky, wear clothes that will allow you to be mobile. For example, keep a pair of running shoes with you and swap out your high heels so you can run away from a potential threat.
Choose your route carefully. If you choose to walk on busier streets with better lighting and more people around, choose that one, even if it might be the longer route. Criminals tend to stick to locations where there are fewer people and where they can act under cover of darkness. Take a wide path around dark corners to avoid being surprised by an assailant.
Prepare your self-defense toolkit. Carry small items in your purse that can help if you get into a risky situation. For example, a whistle can help you make some noise and alert others to your situation. Pepper spray is also a great option. Be sure the canister is accessible, and you know how to use it in an emergency situation.
Know how to fight back. If your toolkit fails you, be prepared to fight back. Direct any punches you throw at your attacker’s face. Take a self-defense class, which will teach you to focus on the right targets. Landing just one good punch can give you that valuable window you need to get to safety.
Basic Safety Tips Every Child Should Know
Here is some basic safety information that every child should be taught:
Know your contact information. Children should be able to share their full name, parent or guardian’s full name, address, and a nearby landmark. Your child should also know their home phone number and a cell phone number for parents. Practice this information with your children as often as possible, so it remains fresh in their memory.
Teach them about stranger danger. Your child should know regardless of circumstances; they should never be led away by a stranger. They should perceive any adult asking them for help as a red flag.
Never share personal information online. Children are pretty adept at computers. But, they are still children. Teach them they can never share personal information such as an address, phone number, or school information to anyone online.
They should be aware of inappropriate touching. Teach your children about when a touch is inappropriate. Explain to them that if anyone other than their parents touches their bodies, they should report it immediately to an authority figure or call for help.
Teach them to call 911. Children should know when it’s appropriate for them to call 911. Discuss possible situations and what steps they need to take. Practice making the call and what they say when a 911 operator answers.
Self-Defense Tips for the Elderly
It is sad that even senior citizens are targets in our society. During the pandemic, we saw increased attacks against elderly Asian Americans. Any elderly person could become the target of an attack. It is important they are equipped with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves. Here are a few tips:
Make some noise. If you are being attacked, shout, blow a whistle or activate a personal alarm. Carry emergency whistles or alarms that fit in your pocket. You can also wear these around your neck for ready access. Loud personal alarms are a great way to let others know you need help.
Use whatever you have in your hands. Anything from car keys to a bag of groceries can be used to fend off an attacker. You can even throw dirt in the attacker’s eyes if you have been pushed to the ground. Swinging a walking stick could also be an effective method. Pepper sprays and stun guns can also be very effective tools.
Aim for the most vulnerable areas. Sensitive points include the eyes, nose, neck, groin, and knees. You could target a spot depending on how agile you are and how close the attacker is to you. You may also be able to jab your fingers or car keys into the assailant’s eyes.
Know your weapons and tools. Here are some of the little everyday items that you could transform into a weapon against an assailant, should you need them:
- A cane or walking stick
- Car or house keys
- Bags of groceries
- Handbag or purse
- Pen or pencil
Senior citizens are also often victims of property crimes. They should be vigilant about locking doors and keeping windows closed. They should not allow any strangers into their homes. They should be warned about scammers who try to get them over the phone or the Internet. If you have an elderly family member living alone, check on them often to ensure they are safe. Go over these safety tips with them often.
If you would like more information about how to defend yourself and stay vigilant against crime, check out self-defense classes offered through your city, local community center, schools, or local martial arts centers. You can also check books or films about self-defense. When your thoughts and actions are focused on preventing crime and protecting ourselves, there is a much greater chance of safeguarding ourselves and not becoming a statistic.
In some cases, it is also possible to file a personal injury lawsuit if you are injured in a violent attack. You can contact an attorney who deals with assault and battery lawsuits for more information.