Personal safety = personal reponsibility

On Feb. 6, the body of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia of Sarasota, Fla. was found. Joseph P. Smith, a 37-year-old mechanic, has been charged with the murder.

A surveillance camera showed her being led away quite easily. When he approached her, she did not attempt to run away, nor knee him in sacred places.

I don’t want to blame her or anyone but Smith for the crime, but whether the crime could been have prevented or not, an atrocity like this should make all of us think again about protecting the safety of our loved ones and of ourselves.

Although we are taught to look left and right and not get into a stranger’s car, safety education needs to be taken further than that, especially at home.

Many people seem to be unaware of how dangerous the world is, and if they are, they ignore the possibilities of anything happening to them, because they don’t expect it. In a world where one can open his door in response to a knock and be robbed and shot, and where dangerous objects are put in the Halloween candy that is handed out to children, one can never be too cautious.

A couple of years ago, I recall being surprised at a girl’s intentions to walk home alone around 9 p.m. While those around her persuaded her to wait for a ride, she insisted that she was unafraid and could “take care of herself.”

She ended up waiting for a ride, but I was appalled at the incompetent parenting she was receiving. Parents who let their children think that it’s all right to walk alone at night shouldn’t be parents. Maybe her parents did tell her, and she didn’t listen. And on the way home, if someone had kidnapped her, it still wouldn’t be her fault, because if her parents had loved her enough for her to feel loved, she wouldn’t let herself become bait, because she would know that if something were to happen to her, she would break her parents’ hearts.

At the nearby Wal-Mart, there are pictures of missing people near the exit. I doubt that many of us look carefully at the pictures, but if you do, it is impossible to not be saddened at the thought that each person is dearly loved and missed.

And an hour later, you will forget and not care about those missing people any more because it has nothing to do with you. Actually, it has everything to do with you. There is no guarantee that someone sorting through his mail and looking at the “Have you seen me?” slips of paper won’t see our own faces.

Today’s youth need to be taught –– along with the dangers of drugs, smoking, alcohol and sex –– that there are plenty of people out there who, like Joseph P. Smith, look for people to prey on.

What could be a better target than, for example, a woman walking alone at night?

Both males and females must constantly be aware of their surroundings. The idea of being a strong, independent person who can take care of yourself is sometimes taken too far. There is a time for being independent and a time for acknowledging that the greater number of people around you, the lesser the chances of being, say, abducted. So here are some random suggestions that everyone should consider:

• Have a “bathroom buddy” in places with not many people, because crimes often happen in places where people go alone. If a stranger grabs you and threatens to kill you if you scream, you still need to scream, bite him and do whatever you can to get away, even if you hurt yourself in the process, because you will probably end up dead, anyway.

• Virginity is overrated. Since the beginning of time, a woman’s virginity has been claimed as something sacred. Even today, various pressures for a female to stay “pure” or not be violated result in women locking themselves away and living a life of stagnancy if they get raped. Women need to be told that although it is impossible to forget about something so serious, it should not hold them back from living their lives. Maybe I have no right to say this because I haven’t been a victim, but many delicate issues, such as abortion, are dealt with by people who lack firsthand experience.

We must take a more proactive approach to our safety, because if we don’t, the offender may not be the only one to blame.

Each one of us has a responsibility, too. If we shirk those responsibilities, assuming that others will be behave all the time, we’ll have to pay the price.

Sovereigna Jun is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way.

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