My mom recently informed me that she is considering purchasing a taser for me to carry for protection. My initial reaction was to roll my eyes and tell her that she was being too paranoid, but then I started thinking about all of the stories of women being attacked and decided that maybe she had a valid point. And since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I did some research on ways college girls can stay safe.
Walking home late at night is inevitable in college. Late-night studying in the library, visiting with friends and attending a party far from your apartment or dorm will put you in a situation where you might have to walk back in the dark. Getting home can be pretty intimidating, especially with assaults happening so close to campus.
Many of you may have seen the Alert Carolina message in February about a young woman who was raped near campus. Here is the link to the news story in case you missed it.
According to this Daily Tar Heel story, most sexual assault incidents happen near Franklin Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. This is especially disturbing, because Franklin Street is the setting of most students’ weekend shenanigans, while MLK has many apartment complexes where students live. As college students, it is not exactly feasible for us to pack heat, but there are other things women and men can do to stay safe:
1. Be smart about walking at night.
If you can help it, never walk anywhere at night by yourself. If you are at a friend's house, have someone drive you home. If you want to leave a party, ask a friend to walk back with you. If you can't find anyone, ride the P2P or call a cab. And when you have to walk back from the library late at night, use SafeWalk. Their hours are 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Put the SafeWalk number in your phone: (919) 962-SAFE(7233). If for some reason you have to walk home by yourself, stick to well-lit areas, and text or call friends to let them know where you are going, so that if they don't receive an "I am safely home" text, they can get help.
2. Arm yourself.
Carry a weapon. It could be pepper spray, a rape whistle, a taser or even just holding your keys in your hand to use as an emergency mini-sword. Check out safetygirl.com, which has cute and discreet pepper spray canisters and stun guns designed just for women.
3. Learn to defend yourself.
Take a self-defense class. The UNC Department of Public Safety offers classes to teach women basic self-defense techniques. This would be a great skill to have for the rest of your life. For more information, visit http://www.dps.unc.edu/Police/crimeprevention/classes/classes.cfm. And of course, if you want to become a master at kicking butt, you could join the Wun Hop Kuen Do Self Defense and Mixed Martial Arts Club.
SafeWalk logo (photo): http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-snc4/277045_160161787366137_2176...
Pepper spray (photo): http://blog.safetygirl.com/wp-content/uploads/Lipstick-Pepper-Spray-300x...
Kickboxing practice (photo): http://fitnesskickboxings.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Kickboxing-For-...