When the economy made a sickening downturn about five years ago, I fully expected to see crime rates increase. It made perfect sense. Individuals who were out of work and in need of money to pay for the essentials in life would turn to a life of crime.
Instead, annual reports from the FBI indicated that crime rates were actually dropping! Between 2008 and 2011, murder and robbery rates dropped sharply, in spite of the economic conditions that continued to grow worse.
In spite of those statistics, it was hard not to notice an increase in a new type of crime, the flash mob. I know I wasn’t the only American who was disgusted and angry at reports that swarms of people would descend upon a helpless, unarmed business, often a retail or convenience store, stuff their pockets, backpacks and purses with anything and everything, and then leave, long before the police arrived.
More than once I wondered what I would do if I were caught in that type of scenario. The urge to do something would be strong, but the smarter side of me realized I would be in the minority and, therefore, vulnerable.
I suspect that mob violence will continue to grow, and not just in the form of flash mobs. Around the world we see mobs, angry that their governments have let them down, and they can no longer afford the basics. The only solution, as they see it, is to express their rage and helplessness by rioting.
Will those riots come to America? Might you and your family suddenly find yourself in the middle of an angry crowd and, possibly, in danger? If that happens, will you be prepared to survive and escape?
- The “Bystander Effect,” causes people who are generally well-meaning and concerned about others to feel little to no responsibility for a situation due to being part of a large group of people. I want to train myself to react to emergencies in an appropriate way in spite of the number of people who could do something but are not.
- Situational awareness trumps just about everything. If you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time, you stand a very good chance of never being a victim of mob violence. Pay attention to local news, in particular.
- After reading this report, I taught my kids to look for exits as soon as they enter a building or business. My daughter and I spotted four exits in a restaurant we visited on Saturday. I figure in a live shooting incident or something similar, just knowing where the exits are may be a life saver.
- Always, layers of security. Situational awareness, dressed to survive, some sort of self-defense item (pepper spray, for example), and training in self-defense all combine to make the individual less vulnerable.
This latter point can be taught to children in ways that aren’t scary or might cause nightmares. For example, encourage kids, even teenage girls, to wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing that would make it easy to run, if need be, and blend in. Whenever you’re out in public, quiz them and even offer a small reward, say a quarter, if they can tell you the color of the cashier’s eyes, or whether the security guard at the door was wearing a cap. Without a single word of warning, you’re teaching them to keep their eyes open and to always be alert.
Practice making 911 calls with younger children, and if the family budget allows, sign up for a martial arts class at a YMCA, private school, or check to see if there are any city-sponsored classes in your area.
You can read, “Crowd Control, Flash Mobs, and Your Safety,” for yourself and put a plan together to stay safe if you find yourself in a situation that is out of control.
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