Time For Change

written by Kris Costa

The hearts at Mindset are deeply saddened by recent events at Umpqua Community College.

Unfortunately, it is my belief that this will not be the last school shooting to take place. The rash of violence spreading across the nation against our schools and the innocents within is nothing short of evil.

My appreciation goes to the first responders, medical responders, crisis centers and others, whose grim tasks now include and necessitate drill upon drill of reacting to such domestic terrorist emergencies. No longer carrying an element of sheer surprise, these tragedies have become scenarios whose practiced responses are now a matter of protocol in our American culture. The re-enforced skill sets of our task forces, and other emergency preparedness teams and individuals have no doubt increased the likelihood of surviving such a horrifying scenario, however, much needs to be discussed and implemented to avert the terrorist act in the first place. It is not enough to deal with the after effects. These occurrences MUST be eliminated. It is my opinion that the most influential to facilitate effective change in our own schools lie with us, the civilian public.

I often wonder how many parents have asked the serious questions to our schools regarding  security and preventative measures, and if so asked, what are the responses?

Our government representatives and the like, will address various talking points around gun control, mental health, etc., all of which are vital and valid and necessary discussions to have,  for quite some time to come. However, let us not forget that it is not the government’s responsibility to appoint school security to all the schools in the nation and regulate it. Our Legislative branch will provide rules to govern society, and the Judicial branch will set ramifications when violations occur. The police and others will respond to such violations. However, the job of keeping our schools safe lie with us, the proactive general public. It simply is not acceptable or effective to wait around in fear for someone, or some other body of people, to do the job we need to be doing, which is stand up for safety of our youth and other personnel in schools.

If you are a parent, have you questioned your child’s school on security procedures? Do you know what the procedure is concerning lock down? Do you know if those procedures are drilled with any regularity? What situations are covered? Most importantly, how is the school addressing preventative measures? How is the school physically secured? Are there increased security measures in place?  Are there “No Gun Zone” signs posted? Does your school believe that is a deterrent? Would they consider additional preventative security measures if the budget for such could be supplemented? Would you pull your child/young adult out of the school if you were not satisfied with their answers? Is there a parent group formed and it is applying pressure  (and support) to the school to make the hard decisions and take serious action?

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Do your children know how to adapt to life where they hear about school shootings in the news regularly? Do they really feel safe? And there is so much more.

If it is not worth the effort to find the answers to the above, and more so, to do everything possible in our power to protect our children in school, then we may loose a lot more lives waiting for others to address these issues on our behalf. I believe in prevention, and it begins in our own neighborhoods. Speak up, form a collective, offer solutions, pressure the schools to respond, financially contribute. It’s not about who “should” be doing what, it is about doing the best we can and now. Lives matter.

There are so many facets to the issue of school violence and violence prevention. Enforcing physical boundaries against it, before it happens, may just be the easy part.

Here is the real question: If we could go back to the day before each school shooting, knowing what we know now, would there be one thing that could be done differently?  If the answer is no, then there is no need to pay attention to this post.

~KBC

“If-Then” Self-Defense

if-thenI am always interested in the studies of crime statistics, probabilities and scenarios. Certainly these studies yield important information and can act as prediction indicators of the occurrence of crime but the information they gather, simply put, are generalities. IF such and such is in place, THEN we may assume that x,y,z will follow. Basically, when it comes to crime indicators, I think the if-then scenario concludes the following predictability reliability: Sometimes. When it comes to predicting whether or not a certain person will commit a violent crime one must consider the individual with their ever changing experiences, chemistry and soul status. I am sure that even the most organic of us cannot predict with any certainty what another will do from one moment to the next.

No one is immune from crime. If we were, we wouldn’t need all those statistics, probabilities and studies to predict its occurrence in the first place. Life itself is an “if-then” scenario. If we are in the path of any number of scenarios that manifest into a violent crime, then we must know what to do. Danger is always brewing somewhere.

In terms of safety, we simply are safe until we are not. Sounds simple but it is true. Here’s another if-then scenario to think about. If you learn nothing, then you will know nothing. Although our basic instinct may be to survive in the face of danger, that often is not enough to actually survive. It is not enough to want to survive if you don’t know how.

Logically speaking, there are just too many threatening scenarios to think about preparing for. At the end of the day, we live with so many risks all around us that it just doesn’t make sense to consider them all and wonder which one we will most probably have to deal with. We rely on studies and statistics, to make educated choices about our safety based on our best guess of where we fit into those statistics and that is helpful, however, crime doesn’t always make sense therefore statistics can not be 100% accurate and only so much of our society can be patrolled at once.

Simply put you will never really know what is coming your way until it is happening.

The only thing we can really rely on is ourselves. The best defense to the myriad of risks that ebb and flow around each of our interactions in life is to know where we stand within them. By it’s very nature, violence is not a predictable event. If it were, no one would become a victim, and clearly, there are victims of violent crime every day all day long.

What safety really becomes is another if-then scenario. Simply put, if I am attacked, then I need to know what to do to survive. If I know what to do then it doesn’t really matter if I am attacked. I know how to defend myself so I will.  That skill will help me get out of trouble. It is the same way that I approach renting a car at the airport. If I know how to drive, then it really doesn’t matter what make or model they hand me the keys to.  If I know how to drive, then I will and increase my chances or arriving safely because I have the basic skill. You cannot always predict which threat in life you will have to deal with, but if you know how to protect yourself, then your chances of survival increase no matter what situation you find yourself in. But only if you have the skills.

We are not born with appropriate self-defends strategies because the nature of threats against us change with the climate of the era. However, it is essential that we do learn to protect ourselves because we never know which situation we will be handed. Without skills, we live a life of chance of which threat we may actually encounter, and common sense tells us that it is not a matter of If, but a matter of when.

~KBC

Mindset Self-Defenese offers workshops, products and a cutting edge magazine dedicated to the self-defense, personal protection and safety of women. Learn more at http://www.mindsetselfdefense.com

 

I Challenge You!

…to get the stats!

If you picked up a newspaper, (ok, I am over 30) errr, or googled the news, or better yet, contacted your local police department, you probably would be shocked to see the amount of crime that is going on in your neighborhoods.  My office is in Scottsdale, AZ., so that’s what I checked. I simply entered “scottsdale violent crime statistics” in the search field and here is what I found:

2010 Crime Rate Indexes Scottsdale, AZ 85260 Arizona United States
Total Crime Risk 63 143 100
Murder Risk 58 144 100
Rape Risk 32 98 100
Robbery Risk 29 102 100
Assault Risk 33 112 100
Burglary Risk 66 139 100
Larceny Risk 48 127 100
Motor Vehicle Theft Risk 96 220 100

The data for Scottsdale, AZ 85260 may also contain data for the following areas: Scottsdale

“Crime Risk Index (100 = National Average): Index score for an area is compared to the national average of 100. A score of 200 indicates twice the national average total crime risk, while 50 indicates half the national risk. We encourage you to consult with a knowledgeable local real estate agent or contact the local police department for any additional information. Crime Indexes are based on numerous current and historical datasets as well as proprietary modeling algorithms which estimate values at more granular geographic levels when specific data is either unavailable or impractical to aggregate. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, these are estimates and should only be used as a guide. For detailed information regarding crime and safety in a community, please contact local law enforcement agencies.”

Hmmm, although I am glad that Scottsdale falls under the national average in some crimes  (which we all know is too much to begin with) I wasn’t exactly pleased with the murder risk value. Burglary and rape didn’t exactly relax me either, nor did an overall crime risk of 63 which inched up toward the national average, and this is “Scottsdale”. Look at the rest of Arizona. Not too pretty at all.

Having moved here from NYC, I was wondering what was going on in that neck of the woods.  So I picked an affluent part of town located by Lincoln Center and the Julliard School to search next. Here is what I found there, and the comparison to Scottsdale.

2010 Crime Rate Indexes Scottsdale, AZ 85260 New York, NY 10023 United States
Total Crime Risk 63 133 100
Murder Risk 58 116 100
Rape Risk 32 80 100
Robbery Risk 29 432 100
Assault Risk 33 144 100
Burglary Risk 66 57 100
Larceny Risk 48 81 100
Motor Vehicle Theft Risk 96 111 100

If you live in Scottsdale, you may at first glance, think whew! (If you live in NYC this doesn’t surprise you, unless of course you live by Lincoln Center). However, Scottsdale, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Am I comfortable with the levels of crime that does exist in Scottsdale? Let’s face it, its not zero. And..
  2. Do I travel outside of Scottsdale, or do I live in a bubble?

I bet you’ve been to Tempe, a big college town as you probably know:

2010 Crime Rate Indexes Scottsdale, AZ 85260 Tempe, AZ United States
Total Crime Risk 63 162 100
Murder Risk 58 75 100
Rape Risk 32 117 100
Robbery Risk 29 115 100
Assault Risk 33 94 100
Burglary Risk 66 119 100
Larceny Risk 48 213 100
Motor Vehicle Theft Risk 96 288 100

OMG! Look at those numbers!  I am not saying this to scare you into taking care of your own personal safety and protection. I am saying it because it is happening. By the statistics in Scottsdale, 68% of you will not have a rape go to completion, however, 32% will! If you are in Tempe, the rape statistic goes up to 117, which is higher than NYC! Think again, where would you send your kids to school and what do we need to be teaching our girls??????

I want every woman to understand that learning to protect yourself is simply a VERY GOOD THING to know.

Stay safe out there, it’s Friday night. And we all know what alcohol and partying does to people’s judgment.

~KBC

 

Tough Decisions

“The liquid burns your innocent throat as it slowly makes its way from the bottle to the inside of your sober mouth. The first swig is tough, the second also does not come with ease, but with each swig the sting decreases along with your judgment. Your vision becomes blurry, your stride is not so steady and your mind is far from clear. You look around yourself and notice that most of your friends are in the same state as you are, if not worse. The party has died down and most of your fellow partiers are now coupled away in the bedroom or heaping heavily over a guest room toilet. You have come to the conclusion that everyone has had enough to drink, or maybe even a little too much.

roadview

Your thoughts, as you applied your make up prior to the party, was to simply have a good time and come home safely. Your thoughts now, inebriated and short of judgment, are scattered so far across your brain that even you can’t tell what they are. The only thing you are thinking of currently is getting home. As the thought of your comfortable bed dances through your brain, your car keys begin to tease you from inside your purse. They invite you to insert them in the car ignition and press your right foot to the gas; bring everyone to their beds. You know that this is a bad idea, although at the time it seems to be the easiest, but when is the easiest decision ever the best? No one wants to wait for a cab, no one wants to pay for a cab and conclusively, none of your friends want to even take cab. You are the most clear headed out of all your friends, although you really are not clear headed at all. It seems a unanimous vote has taken place, and the winner is you, you need to drive everyone home. Hey, you’re only a few blocks from home anyway, right?

You elude the thoughts in your head that encourage you to call home and tell your parents that you need to be picked up. You are scared of the consequences that they may implement if they were to find out you are stranded and drunk at a party. What you are not clearly thinking about enough, however, is the consequences that you may face if you drive while drunk. At first the idea of driving everyone home seems completely ridiculous, you have had way too much to drink and driving your car is just completely out of the question. You decide to call a cab and are put on hold for quite some time, how annoying this all seems to be. As the line holds, the idea of drunk driving rapidly becomes more and more appealing to you. Your stomach is hurting, your head is pounding and all you want to do is collapse onto your bed in the comfort of your own home. Your brain suggests that you call your parents, they always said to call them in an emergency,  but is this really an emergency? Calling your parents is just out of the question entirely; partying, drinking, and boys were not on the agenda you told your dad earlier this evening. Your friends are becoming ill beside you as your phone is still on hold; you become increasingly anxious and unsure of what to do. You begin to regret the drinking that you embarked on earlier and realize that this night was not thought through enough. You are frustrated and annoyed; before you even realize it, you’re on the highway, foot on the pedal and hazy eyes on the road in front of you….”

Everyone, at one point in their lives or another, adults included, think to themselves that nothing can happen to them. One commonality of the human condition, is that at times we believe that we are invincible. Most human beings prefer to be in control of things. For example, many people are afraid of flying. This would seem to be due to the fact that you are suspended in a large object and flying above solid ground, tens of thousands of feet in the air. For some, this is the reason that people are afraid of flying; but for the vast majority, what people are really scared of, is the lack of control over their lives. Many individuals would be completely comfortable flying thousands of feet above solid ground, if they were the ones in the cockpit. This relates to drunk driving in the sense that many people, especially teenagers, falsely believe that while being drunk they still have enough control to operate a moving vehicle. Warning to everyone who has a pulse on this planet; you are not “Superman” and you cannot drive anything while drunk!

Young adults are faced with tough decisions every day. They need support to make these decisions because it is not always easy to make healthy choices and it is especially difficult when you are young. We young people need the support and knowledge of those who have lived longer. Our parent’s mistakes not only to help them grow, but to help us grow. Teenagers should not be afraid to talk to their parents!!! I believe that I can speak for all parents, when I say that if you are drunk and at a party, call for help no matter how “grounded” you think you could be; whether it is a parent, a grandparent or even an older sibling, just call. Every twenty-two minutes a person is killed in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident! (FirstEagle.com). If there is one thing that I have learned, as cheesy as it may sound, it is that your parents are your number one friends; they will have your back whenever you need it, they will pick you up when you are down lower then you ever thought possible and they will love you through even the worst of mistakes. The one thing your parents cannot do, is help you grow if you are dead. Drunk driving will not only kill you, but it can kill any other person on the road or in the car with you.

“You are driving steadily, for what it seems like a couple minutes. Your friends are loudly laughing in the backseat and you are having a hard time focusing. Your head is throbbing uncontrollably and you are beginning to swerve on the icy roads that lead to your house. As you turn around to tell your friends to be quiet, you feel an outrageous spark of pain and suddenly, everything becomes blank. The next time you open your eyes, you’re staring at a broken and blood spattered windshield. You painfully turn around, feeling each of your ribs grind against each other with extreme discomfort. It is at this moment that you begin to weep at the sight of your permanently silenced friends in the backseat of your now crumbled car”.

-ARC

To Believe or Not to Believe?

f04212ff17e710eac8030a8aaf583713It all comes down to what you believe.  Don’t you think? Some people believe the following so they don’t act today:

  • I’m young, I’ll quit smoking when I’m older
  • Someone else will do it
  • I don’t need health insurance, I’m healthy
  • I live in a good neighborhood, I’m not worried about crime
  • The Red Sox will never win a World Series at Fenway
Well, we know what happened with the Red Sox, and look how unlikely THAT was! (sorry Bosox fans)!
The fact is that what we believe becomes our truth, but that is not necessarily “the world’s truth”.
The world is full of marvelous, beautiful, inspiring truths, however, that is not always the case. There are plenty of ugly truths out there in the world. I am quite sure everyone is aware that rapes, kidnappings, domestic violence, murder and the like happen every day, in far away lands, and our own, and in every country around the world. I am far to believe that anyone is in denial about this. However, if you took a poll and asked how many of those same people who believe this have learned personal self-defense, I think the number of “no” answers would be alarming. Why?
I think there are several reasons, carrying some validity. Here are my thoughts:
  1. I have taken precautions, I lock my doors, have an alarm system and have created a barrier environment around my place of residence.Great! But that won’t help you if barriers are broken. If that were enough, there would be no breaking and entering, rape, murder etc..People break the barriers others set for themselves every single day in a myriad of ways. It is just a matter of how far one will go once they are broken, and one never knows.
  2. I live in a safe neighborhood and crime is virtually non-existent here.  Crime is everywhere. You may live in a neighborhood, where the likelihood is less, and that’s great, but there is no neighborhood in the world where there is no crime. There is no such thing as a SAFE neighborhood, only SAFER neighborhoods.  There are victims in every neighborhood and if you or a loved one are the victim, you will no longer believe that you live in a safe place. 
  3. I know how to protect myself/my family. Really? Doing something is better than doing nothing, but unless you have fought off an attacker(s) successfully while in a state of panic, in a systematic way that can be repeated, the truth is you only “think” you know the answer to that question. The truth is you need practice, you need to be trained and you need to be attacked in a high adrenaline scenario to know if you can be effective. And even that is no guarantee because you will know that is part of your training, but it is a heck of a way to give yourself some leverage in the event of a real attack!
  4. I am smart, alert to my surroundings and make good decisions. Wonderful! That’s half the battle, however, does anyone really believe that the only victims of crime are stupid, unaware and make poor decisions? I do not want to compromise the importance of being alert and making good decisions as this is crucial to one’s safety, but the sad truth is that bad things happen to smart, alert and good decision makers every day.

I am not a doom sayer. Those who know me know I believe in beauty. I do my best to accept world reality and I will guard against attack.

Please go get the training you need to defend yourself! Teach your children to defend themselves. This is not teaching your children to fight, it is about teaching your children to protect themselves. Do you look both ways before you cross the street, even though you may live in a less trafficked neighborhood? Do you teach your children to do the same? Of course you do, because getting hit by a car is not worth the effort it takes to look both ways and prevent from being hit. It is no different with personal protection. Being a victim of an attack is not worth the effort it takes to learn skills to protect yourself. Don’t believe me? Ask any attack victim if they could go back in time and learn more skills, that is if you now one who has survived.
~KBC