Should I take my family to the mall for pizza and a movie?
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
There are many options today for protective devices and strategies. This writing provides information about how to raise your level of awareness, thus improve your likelihood of safety in various environments WITHOUT the benefit or use of any of these devices.
Raising the Safety Intelligence Quotient in the community makes a safer community for everyone.
Listen or read on to learn more!
Intuition – the act of knowing or sensing without using rational processes or thought. It’s that “gut” feeling you get.
Discernment – good insight and judgment.
A Low level of awareness may be in order when you are watching a movie in the comfort of your well-secured home.
A Moderate level of awareness may be in order when in a public area which you are familiar with, but is bustling with people unknown to you.
A High level of awareness – may be in order when you are in an area which is new to you and/or is known to have a high crime rate.
Factors that warrant stepping down your level of awareness;
1. When the public environment you are in has their own safety protocol in place you can typically, but not always relax your level of awareness.
a. Airports – Because of tragic events in our history, places like this have quite high levels of security protocol. It is still an area to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, because as we know, unexpected things can still happen.
b. Indoor, high profile political events – At the presidential debates, those in attendance were able to cheer and pay their full attention to the debate because the security was extremely high. Similarly, events with a gate, guards, metal detectors and surveillance, such as concerts, sporting events, etc. are typically assumed safe to the degree that at low level of awareness will suffice.
2. When you are with others who think and act on a regular basis in a high level of awareness.
a. If you are out with a police officer friend or someone known to be keenly aware of safety issues.
b. At a parade or other event where there are police officers and fire personnel present at every corner, a low level is usually adequate.
Factors that warrant stepping up your level of awareness;
1. Malls and movie theaters - while there are security workers and protocol at malls, there are no metal detectors and typically sparse security staff not adequately trained or equipped to subdue or stop someone intent on destruction and senseless acts of crime;
2. Unfamiliar environments – always;
3. Dark areas – as in when you are walking to your car at night or traveling on foot in the city;
4. When alone or with one or more young children, particularly women, and very much so, petite women;
5. Outdoor and/or indoor informal political or religious events – those who have strong feelings against the theme of the event, AND who are intent on making a statement, raise the risk in these environments.
Highlighted times when your guard might be down;
You’ve just arrived at the Magic Kingdom. All you have on your mind is, “Where’s Cindarella!!!” or, “When are the fireworks?” You are SO excited! You’re out of your environment, having fun, usually with other adult family members, in a place where safety is assumed. Someone needs to have a watchful eye, whether for physical safety hazards, potential predators and even, sorry to say, that small percent of people intent on widespread destruction.
You’ve been running around all day doing your Christmas shopping. Your arms are full of packages, your iphone is attached to you somewhere, you are tired, the sun went down an hour ago and you are headed to your car. Even more, you might have a child tucked under your arm and/or another hanging on to your coattail. Your sites are set on just the very next objective, getting everyone and everything in the car, and in the back of your mind are all of the things you need to do when you get home. You are definitely NOT thinking about or even noticing the man sitting in the car next to yours. You might notice the group of teenagers hanging out by a car, but assume they are just interesting in themselves. Even if you have no children with you, all of the other factors might be present and your guard is down.
3. Relaxing and Enjoying Yourself
It is your best friend’s 40th birthday celebration. Most everyone has had a drink or two. You are just having fun at the restaurant or the bar. Your guard is down.
Questions to Consider When Venturing Out
1. What kind of environment am I going to be in?
2. Who will be there?
3. What will be the emotional climate of the outing, my own and others?
4. How wrapped up in the emotion of the outing will I be?
5. Is there a safety protocol in place?
6. Do I and my companions and/or children have a safety protocol for this specific outing?
7. Where will I plan to position myself in relation to exit points and do I know where the exits are?
8. Will I be holding a lot of things or managing children, and/or will I be able to ensure that at least one of my hands are free at all times?
9. Does my car key have a panic button or will I be bringing another “panic” device that I can keep in my free hand, around my neck, around my wrist or at the very least, in my most accessible pocket?
Today’s date is December 14, 2012. A tragic crime event has occurred on this date where a young man killed his mother and then went to the school where she worked and opened fire, killing 27 people, 20 of whom were elementary age children. Last week, a gunman opened fire in a mall, shooting 2 and injuring one. In November, the church I called home was consumed by fire in a matter of a few hours by an arsonist. In October, three were killed in a spa. In September, a former employee killed five people where he had worked. In August, Two people were killed and 8 wounded in a shooting outside the Empire State Building and six people were killed during a Sunday worship service at a temple. In July, a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire at a movie theater. In April, a gunman killed seven people and wounded three at a Christian college.
These incidents are completely overwhelming and almost too difficult to comprehend. These are only the highlighted, prime-time news events. There have been countless other crimes of personal victimization in our towns and communities around the nation.
What is one to do? What are parents to do? Should we drop our children off at the mall, send them to school, attend our Sunday worship service? Should we be shivering and shaking in fear over where the next crime will take place and if it will directly impact me or my family? For goodness sake, should we go out for pizza or is it better to order in?
These are very personal decisions that each and every adult will need to make and that those who care for children will need to make on behalf of their children. The purpose of evaluating Levels of Awareness is so that each of us, and we together as a community can do the best job possible in minimizing the chances that we will be a victim of crime.
As each of us raises our level of awareness, our SIQ, our entire community becomes a safer place to be and fosters a greater closeness in the community.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Authorized Facilitator Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children
Certified Instructor, Refuse to be a victim by the NRA
Certified Rape Crisis Counselor
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress