Humans are social beings. We don’t live alone in jungles and caves but rather in social groups in villages, towns, cities and societies. As a result, crime is often a social phenomenon that must be dealt with at the social level.
While the larger and deeper social issues of politics, jobs, opportunity, social justice and wealth redistribution must always remain at the top of our agendas, we need to descend from the Olympian heights of these complex issues to a more immediate, urgent, mundane and practical level of stopping crime, right here and now, at the level of our communities and neighborhoods.
And here is some of what we can do in that regard:
a. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize community forums to educate the residents in the positive and negative aspects of how to avoid being mugged, raped, assaulted, robbed, burgled or otherwise becoming a prey to crime;
b. Use community forums to educate the residents to spot and recognize potential criminal elements, situations and activities and avoid them;
c. Use community forums to educate the residents to spot and recognize potential criminal elements, situations and activities and report them to the community crime watch groups;
d. Given a situation of rising crime and pervasive threat to our safety and security, and without becoming too paranoid or paralyzed, it is morally all right for us to be wary of strangers in our neighborhood, and to keep an eye on them till we know who they are and what they may be up to.
e. A background of blatant racial discrimination, exploitation, oppression and police brutality may make this a serious human and civil rights issue in certain societies, but in most other places, this should be taken as an acceptable means of coping with a worsening crime situation.
f. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize crime watch groups and activities that will identify and alert the residents about any potential criminal activity or situation or individuals;
g. In each and every community and neighborhood, organize mobile community patrols that will watch and monitor the neighborhood night and day;
h. In each and every community and neighborhood, set up telephone hotlines to closest police stations, detectives and other government officials;
i. In each and every community and neighborhood, set up rapid response teams (RRTs) of residents that will rush to a crime scene and scare the criminals away and provide help to the victim;
j. Provide RRT telephone numbers to the residents;
k. Prepare and post signs and posters in prominent places that alert and warn everyone that yours is a neighborhood crime watch community;
l. Continually review steps taken on this front and discuss ways to improve them;
m. Continually review steps taken to persuade the government to come to the aid of the citizens and prevent crime and discuss ways to improve government effectiveness in this regard;
n. Review steps taken to mobilize the media in your community-based crime fighting efforts and discuss ways to improve them.
Ultimately, and in more ways than you recognize, you are the one responsible for your life – and safety. So, instead of being a helpless victim, always looking to someone else to protect you, assume personal responsibility for your own safety and well being. Here are some ideas on how to do it:
a. Without being too paranoid or paralyzed, know that you are at risk from criminals, at all times and in most places;
b. Train yourself to be aware of your surroundings at all times and in all places;
c. Carefully look around for suspicious and unfamiliar individuals, activities or situations when you leave home for work; to take kids to school; when you return home; go to the mosque; and just about at any other time and occasion;
d. Do so whenever you get into your car, whether at home or in public places and parking lots;
e. Tell your children not to accept anything from strangers or go near them;
f. Tell your children to scream if a stranger approaches them and says or does something that makes them feel fearful or uncomfortable.
g. Tell the school not to release your children to anyone other than you without a written and signed note from you, and if possible, never;
h. Tell your children never to let themselves be approached by strangers and never to go anywhere with them;
i. To the extent you can, avoid going anywhere alone and always be with someone;
j. Don’t get into a taxi in which you are the only passenger, especially in rural areas and especially late at night;
k. Don’t offer rides to strangers;
l. Don’t unlock or open the door of your house unless you know the person who may be knocking;
m. Don’t accept a ride from anyone you do not know very well and do not fully trust;
n. Always have handy a cell phone that works and make sure it is fully charged;
o. If you can afford it, have a backup phone – also making sure that it is fully charged at all times.
p. Have someone always call you and check up on you at regular intervals;
q. When you leave for some place, call someone before you leave and also call them after you arrive;
r. Learn to use your peripheral vision to quickly scan the situation around you and spot trouble before it hits you;
s. The list goes on, but the basic idea is this: Be always on guard. And be always aware of where you are, what you are doing, and where everyone else is in the radius of a 100 feet from you and what they are doing;
t. Use something called commonsense and be smart. It is the divine spark in your heart. It is the internal radar that
God Almighty has placed in every one of us for our guidance and protection. Activate it and make sure it works for you. That is what it is there for.
May God Almighty shower his blessings upon us and protect our persons, properties, loved ones, workplaces, homes, businesses, streets, play areas, neighborhoods, communities and societies from all harm that may come to us from any source, human or otherwise! Aameen!
© 2005 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.
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