November 07, 2005

How scared should we be?

Walking home from the shops in the dark the other evening it occurred to me: how much should we change our behaviour for fear of the action of others?

This particular evening I had been followed down the road to Costcutters by two teenage boys who had tried to talk to me but I had ignored. In this case I wasn't too worried as I'm sure I could have done both of them a fair amount of damage as they can't have been more than 15.

I am always aware when walking on my own of any potential threats from the people around me: I know of people who've been mugged not very far from where I live. I personally wouldn't let concerns like this change my behaviour (not that I really have a choice as I have to walk back from the bus stop in the dark every night), but I'm sure there are women who don't go out alone for fear of this.

But would I feel differently if I or a close friend was attacked? And should we change our behaviour in response to a possible but relatively unlikely risk?

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  1. My attitude is rather blase I'm afraid. I rarely get scared.

    I guess that would only remain, until, as you say, I or a close friend got attacked.

    No conclusions here I'm afraid; it's a difficult one.

    Well, just thinking – I don't think we should live our lives in fear, but nor should we be totally stupid and, say, hang around South Leam at 2am on our own…


    07 Nov 2005, 12:54

  2. Now, I'm going to shock all of you here, given that everyone thinks I'm a ballsy loud confident person.

    I get shit scared walking home from work sometimes.

    People these days are just nasty, and yes, you might be able to do them a lot of damage, Sarah, but had you considered that all they might be after is your bag, and they may have nicked their mother's kitchen knife and be prepared to use it?

    Kids aren't how they used to be, and as a result, I'm scared walking by myself. I walk my boss back to her car because she has to park in a dodgy area of Birmingham about 10 minutes from Millennium Point – I don't think that's changing our lives too much – it's just being safe rather than sorry.

    Interesting one…


    07 Nov 2005, 16:24

  3. …also, just sitting here in work talking about this with Jo. She says that the thing to bear in mind is that you are judging those 15 year olds on the kind of 15 year olds we would have known. These are very different, she says, to some of the 15 year olds that she may have known, and unfortunately, these are the ones you have to watch out for, not the ones that would have been very nice to your Mum at the annual sports' day.


    07 Nov 2005, 16:27

  4. Well first of all I'm not judging them on the 15 year olds I knew when I was at school but rather the ones that I taught at a scummy comp, some of which had ASBOs and had been caught carrying knives and other dangerous weapons. Believe me, I know what 15-year-old chavs are like!

    Of course I wouldn't try to fight someone if they just wanted my bag – I'd just hand it over – and I'd try all other approaches, but if they got more threatening I would try to defend myself. What else can you do? Submit to whatever they want to do to you?

    07 Nov 2005, 17:43

  5. i was given an odd seeming bit of advice the other day by Tinuke (Paul's wife):

    because women have a lot of strength in their bum/hips/thighs area, upon being attacked you should sit down on the floor and kick using both legs.

    on the other hand i was attacked on broadwater green (you'll know it sarah) when i was 15 by a gang of girls (the main one was a 20 yr old) – she threw me on the ground, picked me up by my hair and kicked me repeatedly in the face. in reality, if you are faced with that kind of attack you don't get a second to consider what to do, you just go on autopilot – you scream and cry.

    and she didn't even nick my wallet.

    sorry to be depressing.

    14 Nov 2005, 17:30

  6. Yay, first bloke to respond to this one!

    I hate to say it 'cos it says more about my opinion of society rather than the reality.

    If I have to walk anywhere alone in the dark, I pay even more attention to my surroundings. In a town I keep track of public phones and open shops/garages. I keep an eye on people around me and try to listen to the conversations of people infront or behind me.

    I know that there are bad people in this world, but I know that I can't let them force me into staying home after dark.

    Would the streets be safer if a curfew were imposed on minors? or do the hoodie bearing masses prove less of a threat than adult criminals?

    15 Nov 2005, 00:59

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