Sometimes, we have to face the inevitable: whether because of money, apartment availability, or commute time, we have to live in an unsafe neighborhood. Although we’re far from experts in crime prevention, we do have some common-sense tips for how to make the best (i.e. safest choices) of your situation.
Know your neighborhood
Are some streets better lit than others? Where does crime happen most frequently? Are there any gang colors or other signals that you should know and avoid? Do some online research. CrimeMapping is just one tool in many for tracking crime in your area. Perhaps most importantly, talk to your neighbors. They’ll know the most about your specific situation.
The key to staying safe is being smart. If you’re wandering through a dark alley, texting and listening to your iPod, you’re much more likely to get in trouble than if you walk a safe route home and stay alert. If necessary and possible, walk home with other people.
Look like a “bad target”
If you feel like a victim, you’ll look like a victim. Carry yourself confidently. This doesn’t mean you should go looking for trouble, but you don’t want to appear an easy target. I used to walk home in the middle of the night in a relatively dangerous area, and I dealt with it by pulling a big hood over my head and walking with a swagger. Who knows if it helped, but I never got mugged doing this. Act like everything’s fine, but if it’s not, book it.
Safety in numbers
The more people who can walk with you, the better. Enough said.
…non-lethal ones, that is. It’s always best to de-escalate a situation, and some self-defense weaponry can be turned on its owner, or even make an attacker angrier and more aggressive. Some gadgets, however, can discourage an attacker. Talk to your local police department and perhaps even a self-defense expert about appropriate and legal accessories.
Get a dog
No one likes a bite out of the leg. If you have a dog already, take him with you on errands—he’ll appreciate the extra exercise. You can also post Beware of Dog signs at your house (whether or not you actually have a dog) if you feel unsafe there.
Don’t get too jaded
At the end of the day, remember that there are good people living around you. You need to stay safe, but that doesn’t mean giving into stereotypes. Even a “bad neighborhood” has potential for good; try to see it, and you’ll feel much more at home.
Have you lived in a tough area? Tell us how you dealt with it here or on Facebook.