Editorial: Be aware and be safe

As temperatures began to cool off this past fall, incidents involving attacks on new and returning students began to heat up on campus.  Each incident was an unpleasant reminder of just how vulnerable you can be when you are alone in a new environment. New students are often unprepared and unaware of their vulnerability. Sometimes it takes an unfortunate incident for us all to become aware of surrounding threats and the precautions we must take.

The first incident of the school year was reported at 11:35 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19,  by the MU Police Clery. According to the report, the MU Police Department “responded to an assault that occurred near the intersection of College Avenue and Rollins Street. This was just the beginning of a semester that was problematic for university police and dangerous for the students at MU.  According to the www.mupolice.com/clery/ index, the months of August through October of 2012 had more crime incidents than any other year for that same time period since 2005.  In fact, the crime incidents that have occurred over those three months almost equal those that occurred during 12 months of the previous year.

So what does this mean for students?  A conclusion from these facts and reports is that being able to protect yourself is becoming more important.  Knowing where you are, who you are with, what you are doing and even what kind of protection you carry is important for your own safety. The incidents that have occurred on and around campus have varied from robberies, beatings, and sexual assault.

Increasing the number of officers patrolling the neighborhoods surrounding campus, or providing security officers to monitor where students are coming and going before and after class might help, but would be expensive.

There is no clear permanent solution other than what we can control as individuals.  What we can do as individuals is be aware!  It is as simple as this, when you are not suspecting something it is easier to be targeted and victimized by criminals.  The importance of self-awareness is underrated.  Having pepper spray, and Tasers in your possession might help you, but it won’t do you much good when you’re caught off guard.  By that time you have a few, if any, seconds to react, and by that point, it is too late. Not to mention, that any self-defense products you might possess could be used against you.

Awareness is the first and most important step to your safety.  Other steps you can practice daily to help your safety include:

  1.  Use the buddy system when walking or running, especially at night.
  2. If you can’t use the buddy system call a friend to let them know you have arrived safely
  3. If you carry keys with you, keep a key handy to use a possible weapon
  4. Scream loudly to bring attention to yourself
  5. Never advertise your personal belongings (phone, money, etc.)
  6. Be alert and aware of your surroundings
  7. Avoid high crime areas
  8. Don’t let alcohol or drugs cloud your judgment
  9. Trust your instincts.  If you feel uneasy, LEAVE!
  10. Do not wear headphones when walking or running at night.

These steps are provided by the MU Police Department.

By Matt McCormack
Corner Post Staff Writer