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Do you care about your safety?

Posted by in Blog on May 12, 2015

Here is a game I play every morning. I walk to my local MRT station for my daily commute and scan the people around me to see who would be an easy victim if I was criminal.

As a martial arts instructor my job is to teach people to defend themselves and that process begins first by understanding what makes someone an easy target for an attacker. Why does the mugger pull his knife on one person yet let another one pass by?

Simply put, the average mugger is looking for the easiest target possible, the one who is least willing and least able to fight back. Identifying such people is the aggressor’s skill. This game I play helps me understand what makes an easy target for a criminal and, more importantly, what makes someone an unattractive target.

One thing stands out every morning – people care more about their mobile phones than they do their safety. Criminals love mobile phones because they rob people of the single most effective self defence skill – awareness. People buried in their phones are oblivious to their surroundings. This morning I counted 18 people with their faces glued to their phones just in my part of the train. Every one of them was easy pickings for a criminal. A crowded MRT train might be unlikely place to be mugged but it is an ideal set up for skilled pick pocket.

Some of these passengers were committing the additional sin of listening to music on their headphones at volumes so loud that a herd of elephants could stampede by without them knowing, let alone an attacker.

When it comes to threats, if you cannot see it or hear it, you probably cannot stop it.

If you value your safety then take some responsibility for it. Put the mobile phone down and start being aware of what’s happening around you.

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  • Great advice, Sir! I’d like to add on that, the risk of becoming a victim of violence also could boil down to an individual’s cognitive conditioning, perhaps through a lack of exposure to danger or being continually ‘sheltered’ from dangerous circumstances by a guardian figure, who could be parents or even the Police, little realising that relegating responsibility for one’s own safety to any third party is not wise at all, unless you are a 5 yr old!
    Just as you mentioned about your observations in the MRT, someone who is obsessed with their mobile device in broad daylight amidst a crowd of people, faces an entirely different risk exposure as compared to the same person traversing alone through a dark alleyway while fixated on their device. The distraction is still the same: The mobile phone. But the possibility and magnitude of criminal force has escalated manifolds!

    • Yes, there are indeed many things that make people easy targets for criminals such as body language, the way they make eye contact and the like and many reasons that someone might carry themselves that way. What makes the mobile phone a worry is the fact that staring at them has become the norm, so people do not question the wisdom of it or think about the implications of it. I think the starting point for taking responsibility for one’s safety needs to be self esteem. People need to believe that they are of value, that their lives have value and once they do that they can start to take sensible precautions to stay safe.