Focusing on personal safety

Staying alert and being prepared in sketchy areas can save your wallet and your life.

With increasing crime rates in neighborhoods surrounding the University, students living on and around campus need to be prepared in case they run into potentially dangerous situations. The best defenses are planning ahead, staying calm and being prepared in case something does happen. Boynton Health Service provides tips for living safely off campus, but many of these apply to University housing areas as well.

When walking at night, especially alone, plan a route that is familiar and well lighted, look confident and try to go toward places with a lot of people. Carry keys and money in a pocket, not in a purse or handbag, and keep one hand on your keys ” they can be an effective weapon. If possible, walk with a friend or call the campus escort service. Most assailants follow a modus operandi ” a plan they use to choose victims and minimize their chances of getting caught, and they rarely deviate from their patterns. Anything students can do to throw off a potential criminal will drastically decrease his or her chances of being attacked. Some attackers choose only women or students with backpacks walking alone. Many will avoid people who are walking dogs ” no matter how friendly and harmless Fluffy is, an attacker doesn’t know that.

When faced with a tricky situation such as being followed by a person on foot or a car, make sure the person knows you are aware of the situation. Get a description of the car and license plate number or a description of the follower. Stay calm, but it is important to trust your judgment. Sometimes the best course of action is to run, sometimes it is to scream and make a lot of noise to attract attention. Attackers often are nervous and paranoid about being caught; causing a ruckus messes up their routine.

Students can also take a self-defense class through the physical education department at the University. Earn a credit while learning to protect yourself against multiple attackers or attackers with weapons and many approaches. Attending a University in a large city comes with many challenges, including the need to protect yourself against crime. But students who are careful, alert and prepared will usually come out on top.