The News of the World scandal  has dominated the press this week and served to warn us just how difficult personal privacy is and yet it’s something we all take as a personal right. We all do as much as we can to protect ourselves and our children from unwanted interventions ….we set up spam filters and firewalls on our PCs for example. Those of you with kids will no doubt have set limitations on what they can and can’t do on their computers/iphones but I wonder how many of us remember to also remind them of the basics of personal safety?

This thought struck me as I was sat in a parents meeting at school this week. The Head spoke at length about the dangers of the internet, reminded us about the legal age of Facebook (13 by the way) and shared with us the school rules on internet usage. All great stuff don’t get me wrong but what about the..dare I say it..old fashioned stuff…they used to call it ‘stanger danger’ but I call it protecting youself…in otherwords self-defence.

So your average 13 year old knows how to detect a suspicious Facebook friend request but can they defend themselves from a variety of grabs? Navigating their way around youtube, twitter and myspace is second nature but how quickly can they work out the quickest possible escape route if confronted?

Can you see my point? Here are my quick  personal safety tips that are equally applicable to children and adults.

  1. Be aware. Particulary when you are close to home. Research suggests that we ‘let our guard down’ when we are in familiar territory.
  2. Look for incongruencies. E.g someone asking for the time if they have a watch on. Someone asking directions but not looking at you when you tell them. Trust your instincts…if something doesn’t seem quite right walk away.
  3. Look for escape routes. If a car is following you and you are on foot then turn around forcing it to do a difficult (and conspicious) u-turn.
  4. Be careful of short-cuts. Are they obscured from view? Can someone easily hide along the route? Never go alone or better still take the longer route home.
  5. Carry a personal alarm. Just pop one in your pocket. It’s worth spending a little extra to get one that’s at least 136db.