As we approach another school year, there are lots of young women who will be going out into the world and starting their education away from home. Whether this is going away to college or university, or beginning a vocational course with an employer, this can often mean leaving the nest and heading out into the world. Taking some time to be safe in a new home is important, and as parents, we’re in a position where we’re often wittering at our children for something, so why not this?

 

Amongst the stress of organising moves and grabbing pots and pans to keep them fed, take some time to give them one last “flea in the ear” about being safe while they’re away from home. Yes the usual safe sex and “don’t cook when you’re drunk” conversations are vital, but personal safety is also a must-have conversation; especially for young women.

 

My amazing friend and safety-advocate-colleague, Brittany, has joined us today to talk about staying safe in a new learning environment. Brittany is the co-founder of Sisters in Self-Defense (USA) as well as the founder of the Women’s Mentor Network. As a new mom, safety education and prevention has become her passion. Her goal is to begin education and awareness early in life to empower girls and women to protect themselves and look out for one another! Over to Brittany:

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As women, sadly we should always assume that we could be a potential target. This should not cause us to live in fear, but more to give us awareness and to help us prepare ourselves for anything! Below are a few tips for college-aged women and their families to consider when heading off to school!

  • Aware and cautious roommates will be your greatest defence! Have a safety discussion right away and ensure all roommates are closing and locking doors and windows at all times
  • College kids are a huge predatory target, as they are often considered careless or think they may be invincible. Be aware that anyone can be a target and always keep an eye on your surroundings. If someone were to come within 100 feet of you, you will know if you are looking around and therefore, they cannot sneak up on you.
  • Older dorms and apartments can easily be broken into. Use an under the doorand/or window alarms as a back-up and deterrent to potential intruders (both can be found at sisterinselfdefense.com for US residents).
  • Window air conditioners are also an easy target because they can be easily removed and broken into. This would be another good place for an alarm.
  • Carry warning systemsin the UK or self-defence items in the USA, anything that will help give you a chance to apply reasonable force where necessary and get away (USA residents can find self-defence tools at sisterinselfdefense.com). The purpose of a self-defence tool is not to overpower the attacker, but simply to render them weak enough for you to get away. In the UK, the law generally allows a person to “use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of self-defence”. Similar rules apply to defence of someone else or defending property from an unlawful act. So basically, although carrying self-defence weapons is not permitted in the UK, you can use reasonable force or items that you already carry i.e. a bag.
  • When alone, avoid isolated stairways, basements, or laundry rooms – go with friends!
  • Make sure you know who is trying to enter your home or dorm room before letting anyone in. Keeping in mind that if you open the door, someone can easily force their way in. Use chainswhere possible.
  • Trust your instincts! If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in any situation, get away from it as quickly as possible.
  • Walk with confidence and make eye contact. You become a much more difficult target if you are aware and can identify an attacker because you’ve looked at their face.
  • If ever attacked, get down on the ground, kick, scream and make a scene. Noisy victims who fight back are not ideal to an attacker and will likely deter them.
  • Learn self-defence!! Self-defence classes are available all over the world. Find one in your area and learn to protect yourself.

Be safe and let’s keep an eye out for one another!

 

Brittany xx

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