Factors like wearing seat belts or family histories of heart trouble have a lot more to do with your survival than do random acts of violent crime, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is in the nature of the human perspective to focus on the most immediate and dramatic risk that we experience, as opposed to the less dramatic risks,” said Jim Walsh of Silver Lake Publishing, which has issued “Protect Yourself: Using Insurance, Security Techniques, and Common Sense to Keep Yourself, Your Family and Your Things Safe.”
The Atlanta area’s attention is focused on two unrelated but horrifying random crimes. Jury selection is under way in the death-penalty trial of a man accused of snatching a woman and her child from a public park, then killing them. Last week, a couple whose daughter was attacked with a hammer sued the Gwinnett County school system.
Walsh says six factors – diet, smoking, seat belt use, drinking, family health history, and exercise are “way more important to any of us than schizophrenics with hammers or random events in the park or even al-Qaida.”
Still, “schools have learned in a post-Columbine era that it only takes one incident to put your name on the map,” said Kenneth Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services. He stresses safety plans and urges school districts to view safety not just in terms of lawsuits and insurance claims, but in academic performance as well. “Students are not going to be able to achieve at their maximum ability if their thoughts are dominated by safety concerns,” he said. “Safety and academic performance go hand in hand.” Harold Copus, a former FBI agent, advises giving kids whistles to sound an alarm; getting behind the driver’s seat if you’re ever abducted so you can fight your captor more effectively; making the biggest ruckus you can if someone tries to snatch you.
The National School Safety Center’s Report on School-Associated Violent Deaths, there were six violent deaths nationwide during the 2002-03 school year. For details, go to www.nssc1.org. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says there were 115 kidnappings in 1999, the most recent year for which numbers are available. Of the kidnapped children, 46 were killed and 69 were returned.