Lurking Dangers

By Albert H. Fulcher

Published: Friday, May 7, 2010

Fear has stricken the heart of every parent. San Diegans’ are ever more aware of the dangers lurking in our own neighborhoods with the onslaught of recent attacks on people of all ages. Predators are waiting around every corner, looking for their next victim.Attitudes of “this could never happen to me” are disappearing quickly. As evidence shows, no one is safe, even in the best of neighborhoods.

Our community is currently in shock and mourning over the loss of two teens that disappeared unexpectedly while going on with their daily routines in their own familiar surroundings. The body of Amber Dubois of Escondido was discovered on the Pala Indian Reservation. Dubois’ family and community have been searching for more than a year after she went missing, last seen walking from school with a man.

Chelsea King, 17, from Poway left home to go jogging through Rancho Bernardo Community Park and never returned. After an extensive search the community recovered her body four days later from a shallow grave on the edge of Lake Hodges.

These are just two of the numerous reported crimes that are stirring a scary awareness in our community. In each of these cases, there is one thing that they share in common—they were alone when attacked. It is a sad world when young women cannot safely walk or jog in their own neighborhood. It is time for the people of this community to fight back.

Adults are constantly teaching young children not to talk to strangers. Young adults tend to think that they are invincible, convinced they can take care of themselves. In truth, any person, regardless of age, sex, race or class is a potential victim of violent crime. A person alone, especially in a secluded spot, is a predator’s twisted dream.

Rule number one in self-defense—or better yet, self-preservation—is awareness. Be aware of your surroundings. Living in Southern California our neighborhoods are filled with a beautiful array of parks, beaches and canyons, enjoyed every day by many who love a walk through nature, train on a challenging course or for daily exercise and meditation. Many of these places are very remote and preserved, with their natural habitats intact. To those who take advantage of these special places it is more than just a workout. A spiritual essence adds to the experience while traveling through the beautiful landscape. As gorgeous as they may be, they are also a perfect environment for violent crime.

Going it alone is bad practice. Take a friend, a dog or go in groups. Share the experience with friends. If there is no one available, choose a safe spot, a public area with as many people as possible. It might be a slight inconvenience and not the ideal atmosphere, but the risk of being singled out is immediately lowered.

For those willing to take the risk, take your cell phone, wear a whistle, pay attention to your surroundings and above all learn to defend yourself. Your primary goal is not to defeat the foe, but to run away from the danger. There are several things any person, any age can do to accomplish this.

When strangers pass by, maintain a safe distance. Listen to your gut instinct. Always be on the lookout for a place to run to if needed. If jogging or walking, wear reflective material and change your routine. Many predators chose victims far in advance of attack, because they have predictable behaviors. Varying locations and clothing can help keep one person from being singled out.

When attacked by surprise, fight for your life, go for the kill, never give up. Use every part of your body to fight back, do not back down and do not let the attacker think you will give in. Yell, scream, and do not stop until help arrives or your attacker leaves.

Anything is a potential weapon. Pepper spray is legal and can be purchased in California for les than $20 and by law no more than 2.5 ounces. A pencil, pen, stick or keys between fingers can provide a powerful punch can give a person that split-second chance if delivered to the eyes or throat. Smash an iPod hard on the nose and always keep a cell phone with emergency speed dial settings. Feet, knees, elbows and hands are powerful weapons when used correctly. Go for vulnerable spots repeatedly, attacking eyes, groin, throat, fingers, kidneys and feet.

When weapons are involved, the rules change dramatically. Your life, or the life of someone you love, is worth more than any money or valuables that you may have on you. Give them up.

So many simple techniques are available for just about any type of scary situation a person faces. Rules and tips can vary, depending on the type of attack a person faces.

Anyone who has had the unfortunate opportunity to walk through SWC’s campus at 2 a.m., or on Sunday when all lights are off, knows that it is a very dark and scary place. SWC’s Campus Police Department stands by to help.

If you find yourself on campus at odd hours, whether studying, working or waiting for a ride, call extension 6380 and let them know who you are and where you are working. When alone or small groups in the evening, lock the doors. On-duty officers will gladly come and escort anyone who does do want to walk through the dark to their car alone. Take advantage of the protection that the Campus Police provide. SWC’s lack of violent crime history is a credit to its police and their dedication to this campus’s safety.

SWC has the resources on campus to provide the opportunity for every student, faculty and staff simple self-defense techniques. SWC’s Judo courses (ESA-196ABC) offer self-defense techniques. Another course found in its catalog is simple self-defense geared toward women. This class is not available in Web Advisor at this time. These classes, though, only allow a shallow few to be able to gain the important knowledge that should be available to anyone.

With the support of SWC’s administration, the Associated Student Organization, self-defense teachers and the Campus Police a series of free self-defense seminars at Mayan Hall would provide life saving education that goes well beyond the classroom and textbooks. Our students deserve to have the skills and tools to defend themselves both on and off campus.

 It may just be what saves a life.

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About Albert H. Fulcher
Freelance Journalist Writing is a passion, the story behind it-the muse

One Response to Lurking Dangers

  1. This is a really good article.. I think the pepper spray is a great idea, Please note if you harm your attacker by slashing them with keys or and other weapon believe it or not you can be sued by them

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