Posts tagged ‘crime’

Don’t Be a Bystander

Berger/AP

Last week, outside of a homecoming dance held at Richmond High School, in Richmond, Calif., a 15-year-old girl was gang raped and sexually assaulted for over 2 hours by a handful of young men while onlookers watched. It was not until one student overheard others bragging about it at the dance that the police were called to the scene. When they arrived, they found the young woman half-naked near a picnic table, less than a block from the entrance to the school dance. (source)

Five suspects have now been charged in the rape and beating of the girl. But what is more astounding is that roughly 12-20 people (according to accounts) witnessed the gang rape over the 2-hour span and did absolutely nothing about it. In fact, some took pictures with their cell phones.

“She was raped, beaten, robbed and dehumanized by several suspects who were obviously OK enough with it to behave that way in each other’s presence. What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening and failed to report it.” — Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan (source)

The Bystander Effect

Some psychologists ascribe the behavior of the onlookers to “The Bystander Effect.” According to studies, individuals are less likely to intervene in an emergency/crisis if there are other people around:

“When something unusual happens, we look to others to figure out how we should react. If we see other people doing nothing, we usually conclude that nothing should be done. The problem occurs when everybody assumes the same thing, a phenomenon that psychologists call ‘pluralistic ignorance.’” (source)

That makes us all sound like mindless animals, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, many studies have found that this is the case, more often than not.

Stand Up. Say Something. Call 911.

It took over 2 hours for someone to call police to the rescue of this teen girl. In the recent case of Phillip Garrido, all his neighbors thought he was creepy and probably up to something illegal. But because no one was willing to push the matter, Jaycee Duggard was imprisoned in his backyard for 18 years.

We might think it is uncomfortable to intervene in a domestic dispute. Or we might think that someone else will call 911. We may even fear for our own safety if we witness the victimization of another. But studies have shown that when people know about the Bystander Effect, they are less likely to sit idly by while someone else is in trouble.

So consider this your education. Don’t be a victim of the Bystander Effect. When you see someone in trouble, being assaulted or victimized; stand up, say something, and call the police. You may prevent this type of atrocious act from happing to another teen girl outside a high-school dance.

For other perspectives on this case:
Rape: America’s Least Reported Crime
Bystanders No More: Teaching Kids to Respond to Violent Crime
Friend of Gang Rape Victim Blasts School Officials Over Safety
Richmond High Rape—What Do We Do With This?

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November 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention just released their study, Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. The study included over 4,500 juveniles age 17 and younger and covered topics from bullying, to child maltreatment, to sexual victimization. Here are some interesting findings:

  • Children 7-10 years old are the most likely to experience physical assault/bullying from siblings and peers
  • Nearly 1 in 10 surveyed had been sexually victimized, and nearly 20% of all girls are sexually victimized by the time they are 17
  • 1 in 5 children suffer maltreatment (physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and more) by the time they are 17
    Children 10-13 are at the highest risk for kidnapping than any other age group
  • Overall, adolescents age 14-17 are at the highest risk for witnessing or being the victim of physical abuse and sexual victimization of all types

Any violence against children is too much violence against children. Talk to your kids about what they can do to protect themselves from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Foster a relationship with your children that is open and honest, where they can feel safe talking to you about these issues. Overall, as adults and parents, we need to be the examples for our children. If we are physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to them or others—or let abuse we see go unreported—they will learn from us.

Let’s all work together to stop violence against children. Here’s one organization that is trying to help: www.darkness2light.org. They have great resources for parents for raising awareness and combating child sexual abuse.

Read the entire results of the study here: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227744.pdf

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October 12, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Teens Sued over Obscene Facebook Page

Four Chicago teens are facing a defamation lawsuit over a fake Facebook page they created for a teammate. The four teens created the fake Facebook profile page using their victim’s real name and cell phone number. Once the profile was up, they proceeded to post sexually explicit and racist comments on it, appearing to come from their victim, who they also portrayed as gay. By the time the profile was deleted, the four teens had amassed 580 friends on the fake profile. The mother of the victim, who lobbied Facebook to delete the profile, is now suing the four teens for defamation and emotional stress.

I think we can all agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that the boys who did this should be punished in some way. However, who will actually pay the price for their behavior? Their parents. If these four boys are found guilty, their parents will be paying damages.

This example shows that it is not just the kids involved who are affected by cyberbulling—whole families can suffer as a result. This lawsuit highlights the importance of talking to your children about ethical online behavior. Many teens think that they can get away with anything under the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, but they are wrong. In fact, there are many ways that your identity can be tracked down over the internet, and that’s just what happened to these boys.

As technology progresses, and people begin to carry their internet identity around with them through cyberspace, the illusion of anonymity will breaking down further and further. It is important to start educating your children while they are young about appropriate online behavior (for example, check out Woogi World, a social media environment built to teach elementary school age kids about ethical and safe online behavior). Remember, if your son or daughter is being the bully, you could be the one to pay.

Sources:

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October 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Eating Too Much Candy Leads to Life of Crime

A recently released study by researchers at Cardiff University in the U.K., found that children who eat candy everyday have an increased risk of being convicted of a violent crime by the time they are 34. The study found that almost 70% of respondents who had been convicted of a violent crime, recall eating candy almost every day as a child, compared to almost 42% of those who had never been arrested for a violent crime.

Clearly, there must be other factors at work. So the researchers looked at the data again to control for others factors, like parental permissiveness, urban or rural living, economic status, and more, but the results were surprisingly constant: Eating a lot of candy as a child led to higher rates of committing violent crime as an adult—regardless of other factors.

So what does this mean to you? Should you forbid your children from eating any and all sweets? Not necessarily. The results of this study raise more questions than answers. But researchers are looking into 2 possibilities: either chemicals in the candy are actually affecting brain functions/development, or some children already have issues with self-control, of which eating lots of candy is a symptom not a cause.

Let’s hope it’s the latter. I’d hate to stop giving out candy on Halloween.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20091002/hl_time/08599192734700

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October 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm 1 comment

Don’t Ignore Domestic Violence

The Galveston County Daily News recently published a story about offering help to victims of domestic violence. Dr. Jeff Temple, a professor at the University of Texas, asks these questions:

If you witnessed someone breaking into your neighbor’s house, would you call the police?

What if you saw someone stealing the neighbor’s car? How about if you saw your neighbor hit his wife?

This last question might be a bit more difficult to answer, but it shouldn’t be.

Many people are afraid to get involved in instances of domestic abuse. Some think it is a personal matter and they shouldn’t get involved in anyone’s private business. But Dr. Temple says that kind of thinking is wrong:

Domestic violence is not a private matter; it is a severe and pervasive public health concern that demands the same diligence as other problems you might encounter in your neighborhood.

A marriage license is not a license to hit. If you witness an incident of domestic violence, call the police.

Assault is assault no matter how you slice it. Just because it occurs between intimate partners does not mean we can look the other way.

If you know someone who is involved in an abuse relationship, offer specific help. Let them know where they can go, what numbers to call, what websites to go to, and who they can turn to for help. They may not want your help, but if you offer it, then they will know who they can come to when they are ready to get help.

Read Temple’s full article here: http://www.galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=6d157091e4add50c

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September 29, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

The 25 Safest Colleges in America

Brigham Young University #17

Brigham Young University #17 of the 25 safest colleges in America

I wish I had the time to put something like this together, but because I am so busy, the Daily Beast decided to put this list together for me. They compiled a list of colleges around the country that had more than 6,000 students enrolled and had some type of on-campus housing. Not surprisingly, the safest colleges tend to be smaller (under 15,000 students), and many tend to be rural (although there are quiet a few urban New York colleges on the list). Case in point: the number 1 safest college is The New York Institute of Technology (11,831 students). The biggest school in the top 25: Texas A&M (46,542 students).

For the full story and the complete list: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-09-24/the-top-25-safest-colleges/

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September 28, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Design Your Neighborhood Against Crime

Lately, there has been a widespread trend toward use of web 2.0 tools and social media in law enforcement. Although these tools are great for communication and maintaining connections between citizens and law enforcement, they—in and of themselves—will not decrease crime significantly. Sure, web 2.0 crime mapping can provide an advantage to neighborhood watch groups, but public-facing crime mapping will not necessarily reduce crime if it is not coupled with a variety of other personal crime-prevention strategies.

What we’re talking about is not simply looking at the results of crime, through crime mapping, statistics, and sharing crime tips through Facebook, but using that information to target physical aspects of the community that encourage crime. For neighborhood watch groups this means not just watching out for crime, but actively paying attention to physical aspects of your community that may increase chances for crime.

Physical Aspects of Your Neighborhood

Look around your community. How many neighbors have their porch light on at night? How many lawns look unkempt? How many houses have bushes under their windows? How many houses have large windows facing the street? How many houses have fences? The answers to these questions may help you root out some aspects that make your neighborhood more attractive to criminals.

Strategies

Overall street appearance, like nicely manicured lawns, attractive bushes, and accent lighting, sends a message to criminals that the homeowners care about their property and keep an eye on it—and might have security systems. Unkempt lawns and neglected trees and shrubs, are a sign that maybe other aspects of the home are untended too, like door and window locks.

Street and porch lighting deter criminals who generally don’t want to be in the spotlight. And, coupled with street-facing windows, make criminals feel uncomfortable, like they are being watched and could easily be identified.

At first, you would think that high fences would keep criminals out, but that is not always true. Waist-high fences or shrubs lining your property actually provide two benefits: they act as a barrier that is awkward to cross, and they give you street visibility. With high fences, you won’t know a criminal is coming until he hops the fence or enters the gate. With a waist-high barrier, you can them coming from a mile away.

Finally, there is a very simple way to block access to your windows, plant thorny bushes under them. I know it sounds kind of silly, but faced with the prospect of pushing his way through a thorn bush to get to your bedroom window, most criminals will pass your windows up for easier targets.

Solutions

These are all aspects of your property and neighborhood that you can control. Talk to your neighbors about implementing strategies to deter criminals before they even get to your house. In addition, you can talk to your city council about street-lighting issues as well as public signage (like neighborhood watch signs) and other physical aspects of your neighborhood that are city property.

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September 4, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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