The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 7, 1992- Page 5
6Fear is not what
keeps people safe,
it is good judgment.
Don't teach people
to be fearful - the
point is to feel
A-Step Defense founder
6'We don't want you
to be paranoid. The
idea is to be
I've always tried to defend a
lot of crimes by saying that they
were a product of society. For
example, unemployment can turn
an honest, otherwise working
person into a criminal. What some
saw as larceny was actually
somebody trying to feed his or her
Even apparently senseless
products of a
out of a
Ann Arbor Police
Students take a bite out of
uaii -GK - Oli - - 0
by Lauren Dormer
Daily Crime Reporter
ape. Robbery. Aggravated assault. Bur-
glary. Larceny. Motor vehicle theft.
The mention of these words creates
vivid images in all of our minds - visions of
losing our property or our dignity to the crimi-
nals who wander the streets seeking out their
rIgnorance or indifference about the fre-
quency of crime puts our safety and happiness
in serious jeopardy, but crime prevention ex-
perts say living in fear is not the solution.
"We don't want you to be paranoid," said
Adele Akouri, a crime prevention specialist at
the Ann Arbor Police Department. "The idea is
to be conscientious and aware."
Robert Williams, founder of A-Step Self-
Defense, a comprehensive self-defense pro-
gram, said, "Fear is not what keeps people safe,
it is good judgment. Don't teach people to be
fearful - the point is to feel secure."
*Kata Issari, interim director of the Univer-
sity Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness
Center (SAPAC), said people must be "empow-
ered and able to fight back" in situations of
Still, many say that feeling secure on cam-
pus is difficult in light of the 2,830 crimes
reported by the University Department of Pub-
lic Safety (DPS) and the 91 sexual assaults
reported to SAPAC in 1990.
Many University students - particularly
women - express a great fear of walking alone
"None of my sorority sisters or friends will
ever let me walk alone at night," LSA first-year
student Debbie Berman said.
"A lot of people have a misconception that
they are free from harm on this beautiful cam-
pus, but everyone must take necessary precau-
LSA sophomore Cathy Lahti agreed. "I
sometimes walk home alone, and I don't think
it's too smart, but I don't like to feel that I can't
go out alone at night."
Lt. Vernon Baisden of the DPS Crime Pre-
vention Unit said students should know there
arealternatives, such as Safewalk andNorthwalk
- night-time walking services that provide
free escorts for students.
Safewalk is a student-run organization made
up of 195 volunteers who walk students any-
where within a 20-minute radius of the Diag.
Students are walked by teams of either two
women or one man and one woman, so that
women do not feel as apprehensive as they
would be being walked by two men, said Leah
Niederstadt, a coordinator.
sophomore, said, "A lot more people are using
the service this year because of the reports of
rape and violence on this campus and others
over the past year."
First-year RC student Jennifer Napolitano,
also a volunteer, said she wanted to work for
Safewalk because she doesn't think it's right
f. ... .- - - .+ 1 - . try ..... .:.. n^1a r ei
Top: Members of the University community can
one in the Central Campus Recreation Building.
underneath graffiti on Liberty Street, reading -
The Okinawan Karate Club teaches tradi-
tional karate and includes awareness, techniques
for getting out of holds, and self-confidence,
said Karen Bechtol, an instructor.
Art School senior Stephanie Ruopp, a stu-
dent in the class, said she took the class because
she plans to go to New York, and wants to know
how to take care of herself.
"If I keep up with it, I think I'll definitely feel
safer. The things they teach you are basic moves
and can be used to protect yourself in a given
situation," she said.
Kelly Wilson, agraduate student in the Busi-
ness School, agreed that the techniques learned
in Okinawan Karate can be used in outside
"It gives me a certain sense of self-confi-
dence," she said. "I feel like I leave the class
with certain tools that can be used in the real
However, some students said learning ka-
rate would not be useful as a method of self-
"I couldn't use this for self-defense when
people out there have guns," said Silvia Stern,
a third year law student. "It takes me so long just
to assume the correct position!"
The students agreed, however, as they
watched the instructor elegantly warming up,
that the more they practice, the more natural the
movements will become.
Despite such positive student reaction to
self-defense classes, some crime-prevention
officials expressed concern that students may
become over-confident in their abilities.
"If someone takes self-defense classes, I
recommend that they constantly maintain it
because otherwise, it can give a false sense of
reassurance," Akouri said.
Issari said self-defense techniques are good
for women because they teach them to fight
back, but she worries that people think it is a
n-..n. hn will..: n n ra..-
including Mace, are illegal in Michigan.
Carrying a knife is discouraged by some
experts. "Although it can be intimidating, most
people don'trealize when they've been stabbed.
It takes a long time to have an effect," Williams
Williams said people should be aware that
everyday makeshift objects which they carry
such as keys and umbrellas can be very useful in
"This way, we don't have to constantly be
reminded that the world is not such a nice
place," Williams said, adding that no object is
worthless if it makes you feel more comfort-
able. "The weapon should complicate the situ-
ation for the perpetrator."
The most important weapon
"Think ahead, be alert, and be prepared -
this is one of the best self-defense tactics. And
no matter where you are, trust your instincts."
Issari's advice was echoed by all experts
speaking about the basic methods of protecting
FILE PHOTO/Daily yourself against crime.
learn Tae Kwondo in classes such as this Akouristressedthatallpersonalsafetyshould
Above: An Ann Arbor police cruiser parks becomeanunconsciouseffort, and shouldauto-
- appropriately enough - "Call the cops." matically be built into the daily routine.
"Demeanor has a big importance," she said.
Experts rate "Someone who portrays themselves as fright-
protective devices ened or frail will be more apt to be a target. A
"The way to define a weapon is in terms of person's attitude needs to say 'I will not let you
how it is used," Williams said. "The important get near me,"' she said.
thing is to test the weapon out and see how well Lt. Baisden agreed.
it fits you and your particular lifestyle. When- "One's attitude and posture certainly play a
ever we have a weapon, we should try to use it part in self-protection. Walking like you know
as a backup - the real danger should be the where you are going portrays a certain image,"
person who holds it." he said.
EMost experts agree that the best protection Akouri suggested that men carry two wal-
devices are objects that make noise, such as lets: one with theiridentificationandone dummy
whistles, alarms, and sirens that are activated by in case they are ever confronted, since a crimi-
a yank. Miniature cannisters that produce a nal will not take the time to check the contents.
foghorn-like blast are a safe option and work For women, she said valuables should not be
well to deter someone who is coming toward carried in a purse or bag, but it is dangerous not
you. to carry any bag at all because then the person
"These objects make the perpetrator lose becomes the target.
control of the environment and also increase his A-Step teaches students, "to lessen their
heart beat to therhythm of the sound," Williams vulnerability, maximize their power, and ex-
said. pose as much vulnerability in the perpetrator as
Issari, who carries a whistle on her own key possible."
chain, also recommends a noise-maker. "It's a This can be done by eitherincreasing energy
really good way to.get people's attention," she with resistance, or decreasing energy with co-
said. operation, Williams said, emphasizing that there
A long flashlight is advantageous, Wil- is no right or wrong solution to any particular
liams said, because it serves a dual purpose: it situation.
can be used to blur the perpetrator's night "There is nothing wrong with starting off
vision by flashing it on and off directly in resisting and then deciding to cooperate. If
the eyes, and it can be used to strike the the mind says there is another option,
attacker when held correctly. you'll come up with something."
U Chemical sprays, such as Mace A-Step is partially based on the
and oleoresin capsicum-based prod- analysis of perpetrators of violence:
ucts (red pepper), are discouraged who they are, how they assault oth-
bymostcrime preven- ers, and how to identify them.
tion experts because "Most people will be as-
they can be danger- saulted by someone they know.
ous. Any perpetrator of violence
Issari said Q that assaults a stranger has
SAPAC does not recom- already caused trouble.
mend sprays because VICTIM within their own social
there isno predictabil- network," Williams
ity as to whetherornot said. "It is important to
the enn will wrr n i nn oorantPP that the understand the nernetrtnors and see what thev
Much of this may be true.
However, people do not always
become criminals to correct a
perceived injustice. I learned this
long ago from personal experi-
ence, but I realize it every day in
I grew up in the sheltered
suburb of Dearborn, but I at-
tended junior high and high
school at the University of Detroit
Jesuit High School and Academy.
I never really thought twice about
this, but many of our neighbors
thought my parents were commit-
ting some form of child sacrifice
by sending their little boy into the
big, bad city of Detroit.
Their only images of Detroit
came through the media, which
regularly sensationalizes the
violent crimes which took place in
the city. Because all they saw and
heard was that Detroit was "The
Murder Capital of the World,"
they became too scared to enter
the actual city itself.
Not only did I learn that not
everyone in Detroit was a
criminal, I also learned that crime
is not exclusive to big cities. I
learned the latter as a seventh-
grader when I attended a high
school basketball game.
At the games's conclusion, I
tried to call home for a ride, but
could only find one phone, which
was out of order. My friend and I
figured we would justdwait
outside and my dad would
eventually come even though I
We waited until everyone else
had left, and we were in the
parking lot alone. Not long after,
a car entered the parking lot and
some high school students- all
much bigger than me at the time
- jumped out of the car and
chased us around the parking lot.
They kept demanding that we
give them our hats and wallets.
The driver pursued us in the car as
if he were planning to run us over.
Because they were at least a little
drunk andI was really scared, I
was able to evade them for a
while. My friend also escaped
unscathed, but had his hat stolen.
Finally, they left, and thankfully,
my dad arrived, figuring that the
game must have ended.
This didn't happen in Detroit
or some other big city. This
happened in that same sheltered
suburb in which I grew up in.
What I learned that night is
that violence isn't always com-
mitted by desperate people. What
would have possessed those guys
to chase around a couple of kids?
They all attended an affluent
suburban, Catholic school. They
surely weren't after my friend's
hat, because if they wanted one,
they could have bought one.
I understood then that violence
is random, and it can affect all of
us, even in a beautiful city like
Dearborn or Ann Arbor. How-
. .. . . . . . . . .