A girl going off to college on her own is a nerve-wracking thing. Forget all the worries about passing exams, and finding friends, and boys – what about safety?!
Date rape. Stranger rape. Mugging. Kidnapping. Pissed off people coming on campus to shoot everyone they can. Someone driving a car into your group of friends.
What’s a girl supposed to do about her safety?
Well, fortunately I’m going to answer (some of) that question.
First things first, the inevitable cliché
Cliché 1: Everybody and every situation is different – so take everything I say, THINK IT THROUGH FOR YOURSELF, and then decide if it applies to you or not.
Cliché 2: I am not telling you to break the law (that would be illegal of me). But if you realise the law makes you an easy target, and you decide to break the law to improve your safety – then I can understand your motivations.
The most important thing to realise
At this point the most important thing to realise is that you are on your own. Nobody is coming to save you.
You’re walking back to your dorm from the library late one night. And some guy with his hoodie pulled up starts walking up behind you. So you instinctively look all around you. Know what you’re going to see? That there’s no one else around to interfere and save you. Or maybe you’ll see Mr Hoodie’s friend coming at you from another direction.
There won’t be a group of friendly girls just happening to walk past at just the right moment like in the movies.
Edward Cullen is not going to suddenly drive up in his Volvo and rescue you.
As a rule of thumb, everybody going off to college (boy or girl) is completely unprepared to be an adult and take responsibility for themselves. Especially when it comes to physical safety.
Why do you think I asked “What’s a girl supposed to do about her safety?” Because I want the girl to realise she has to be the one doing it, taking the responsibility.
If your daughter’s going off to college
Before she goes off (preferably well before), be sneaky and make her learn self-responsibility. Get her to cook, to clean, to shop. Let her get into situations she hasn’t been in before, and don’t rescue her. Let her get used to the feeling of “No one’s coming to help – OK how do I fix this myself?”
There are many good side effects of taking self-responsibility and knowing, deep down in your bones, that you’re on your own. Some of them include being less stupid with booze and drugs. Less likely to get pregnant accidentally. Not overspending your budget nearly as often.
By the time she’s old enough to be going out on her own, she should realise that she needs a weapon. You’ve not done her any favours by shielding her from violence and letting her believe she’s Wonder Women and can kick ass if she so chooses. That’s why girls with brothers are often smarter about safety – they’ve wrestled and fought with their brothers and know just how outmatched they are in the strength department (that’s if you let them play fight).
Every girl needs to know that she is extremely unlikely to be able to fight off a man. Not without training, a certain mentality, and preferably weapons.
(While we’re at it every guy needs to know the risks of stupidity bravado and of getting into a fight.)
The (first) weapon to buy your daughter
Any weapon is useless if you’re not willing to use it. That’s why the first weapon I recommend a woman buys is pepper spray. Preferably not the cheapest thing you can find at the Chinese store. Something like this one will serve you better.
Most people (especially mentally untrained people) are not going to be sure of using their weapon. I don’t mean they won’t know how to use it. I mean they won’t be sure about when to use it. If they should or should not.
I think knives are a great weapon for saving your life. Most people (fortunately) realise that knives are serious business. That if they screw up they can hurt someone innocent. This makes them somewhat reluctant to use them. This reluctance is good for most situations – but when you really need it, being too reluctant to use your knife can get you killed.
Heck, some people just have a hard time being mentally capable of hurting someone.
It’s because of this that I think a college girl’s first weapon should be pepper spray – she’s more likely to actually use it. There’s less reluctance.
If you spray the wrong person for the wrong reason because you were extra nervous one night – well, they swear and groan a lot. And you can help them find a tap to rinse their face off. But in the long run there’s no major damage.
But does it work?
Mostly? Yes. You can get used to it (sort of). And if the guy knows a few tricks he can make it less effective. But aside from professional muggers (relatively few on most campuses) it works pretty well.
Date rapists? Stalker classmates who jump out of the bushes? Mostly works well. And that covers most of a girl’s (and her parents’) worries. Hence why I think it’s a great first weapon.
Professional muggers? Not always effective.
Drugged up dude? Drunk guy getting too frisky? Highly pissed off person? Then we’re getting into the limits of what pepper spray will protect you against.
That’s why I said pepper spray is a good first weapon. I didn’t say you should stop at only one …