As you’re walking down the street with your phone out and your computer in hand, thinking about that test tomorrow and that essay you have due, you are not worrying about your environment. But in all places, people need to be aware as they move about the streets. Different resources have been created to help you think about your safety.
The website Safe Kids World posted an article by Kate Carr about risks to pedestrians. Carr states, “Unfortunately, cell phones and other handheld gadgets are causing teens to be more easily distracted, and that is leading to greater risk to pedestrians on the roads. Every hour of every day, a teen pedestrian is killed or injured in the U.S. after being hit by a car, bike or motorcycle.”
Safe Kids Worldwide started a research group called Teens on the Move that gathered data from over 1,040 teens from the ages of 13 to 18 to explore walking behaviors and their experiences as pedestrians. 40 percent of the teens that Teens on the Move interviewed say that they have been hit or nearly hit by a car, bike or motorcycle while walking. The research found that teens who have been hit or almost hit also think it’s normal to cross the street while texting or talking on the phone. 63 percent of teens say almost everyone or most people their age text or talk while crossing the street.
In her article, Carr points out that teenagers have the highest risk to be the target of crimes. A New York neighborhood newspaper, The Local, posted an article by Shannon Geis about “How to Stay Safe: On The Street”. Geis cites Officer Sean O’Shea of the New York Police Department for guidelines for protecting yourself while walking around town. First tip is to “Always be aware of what’s going on around you,” Officer O’Shea said. “That’s the first step toward not becoming a victim.” The second step is to use street smarts to stay safe.
Other steps that Officer O’Shea suggests:
• Never carry your wallet in a rear pocket; use a front pants pocket or an inside coat pocket.
• Minimize the amount of money, credit cards and valuables that you carry. Only take items that are necessary.
• Carry your keys separate from your identification.
• Travel on well-populated and well-lit streets.
Additional advice for street safety is offered by The Center for Women’s Health, in “Safety on the Streets.”
Some key points:
• There’s always safety and comfort in numbers, so the more the better.
• It’s important that you’re aware of your surroundings; look up and down the street on both sides and even behind you.
• Trust your instincts. If you feel like you’re being followed, go into the nearest store or cross the street and see if someone does the same.
One important rule is do not fight with someone who tries to take your belongings. If you fight you risk getting hurt. Money and belongings can always be replaced but your life and health can’t. Run in the opposite direction and find the nearest police station or help. Also use your voice. Scream! The Center for Women’s Health states, “Yelling for help is a sure way of getting the attention of people around you.”
Some noteworthy facts to remember while being on the streets is to pay attention, don’t give your info to strangers, and make a safety plan. Ask yourself, If something were to happen where would I go? Who can I call? Where’s the nearest safe place?
The Cambridge Massachusetts Police Department posted safety tips for street safety on their website. They suggest while on a run or walking home do not wear both headphones. “It can distract you from being aware of your surroundings and who may be approaching you.” A great tip is to carry a whistle or some type of noisemaker in case of an emergency, which would scare the attacker or alert people to help.
As a teen, you are given a great deal of social freedom by your parents, and with that comes the responsibility of being aware and taking care.