Teens

All from Victims of Violence website (http://www.victimsofviolence.on.ca)

 Staying Safe when Going Out:

  • Always make sure you have a safe way home at night whether you get a ride or have somebody meet you;
  • Make sure someone always knows where you are going and when you will be back, even if they only have a general idea it is better than nothing;
  • Being alone at night is never a good idea when traveling outside.  It is always a good idea to go out in a group or at least with one other person;
  • Avoid isolated areas at night since that is where you are the most vulnerable.  Do not take unnecessary shortcuts at night that are out of the way and could be potentially dangerous;
  • If you have a cell phone, it is a good idea to bring it with you so you have easy access in case you need to make a call;
  • Carry extra money for a taxi in case you get stuck for a ride;
  • Don’t travel with people that you don’t know well or trust.  They may put you in a situation that you don’t want to be in;
  • If you are walking at night, stay alert to your surroundings.  In addition, you should also convey with your body language that you know where you are going and don’t want to be bugged (keep your head up, walk purposefully);
  • If you live in an apartment building, don’t get into an elevator if you don’t feel safe;
  • If you are taking the bus, sitting near the driver so you are not isolated at the back of the bus can be a good idea;
  • If taking the bus or subway, wait in the designated safety area or wait near the token booth;

    If you are traveling in a car, there are still a few precautions you should take:

  • Keep all your windows and doors locked;
  • Try and park in a non-isolated, lit area;
  • Have your keys ready before you approach your car. Have them in hand before you leave the building you are coming from as having to fish around in your pocket or purse can leave you vulnerable for just enough time for something dangerous to happen while you are not paying attention.
  • Although it seems obvious, don’t hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.  In either situation, the person is someone you don’t know and can be a potential danger;
  • Be sure to have a cell phone in case you need to make an emergency phone call from the car.

 Staying Safe when Drugs and Alcohol are Involved:

  • Always go out with a group or at least one other person you trust.  This is in case you or your friends become drunk; at least there are others there to make you look and feel less vulnerable to potentially dangerous situations.
  • Never consume an unknown substance because you never know the effects it can have on your body and your mental state of mind. If you consume something that you don’t know the effects of, you may end up in an incoherent state and you may not have the ability to think about your own safety.
  • Don’t accept alcohol (or drugs for that matter) from people you don’t know and trust. You might think you know what is in it and what it will do to you, but it only takes a moment for someone to add an additional drug or other substance to that drink to make you much more intoxicated and vulnerable then that drink should have made you. 
  • On that note, never leave your drink unattended, someone could spike it or put an unknown substance in it. If someone puts an unknown drug in your drink, it could cause you to be in an undesired mental state or even unconscious.
  • Never get into a car where the driver has been drinking or doing drugs.
  • Always look out for intoxicated friends.  If friends of yours or people you know become intoxicated, keep an eye out for them in order to prevent them from being in a compromising situation.
  • Never leave with someone that you don’t know that well.  Although you don’t want to travel alone at night, you don’t want to get a ride or leave with someone you can’t completely trust either.
  • If you are stuck for a way home or the person that was supposed to drive you home drinks, it is better to call your parents for a ride.  Parents will be angrier if you jeopardize your own safety rather than call them for a ride home.

 Party Tips:

  • If you and/or your friends drink, it is a good idea to have at least one person in the group that stays sober in order to watch out for the safety of intoxicated friends.
  • Never go with a person you just met at the party to an isolated place—because you just met them you don’t know if they can be trusted. Most people seem nice when you first meet them.
  • Never leave an intoxicated friend alone because sometimes when people drink too much they are susceptible to being misled and are vulnerable.
  • If you are camping or at a cottage, be careful of where you go, whether it is to the woods or to an unfamiliar town.
  • If you are at a bush party, try to stick close to the group because the outdoors at night is an unsafe place, especially secluded places, you might even get lost.
  • If you drink yourself, stick close to your friends.
  • Never leave your drink unattended because someone can either spike it or put an unknown drug in it. This includes drinking from a punch bowl.
  • Be wary of people you and your friends don’t really know. It is better to be overcautious than not cautious enough.
  • Always leave the party with the same people you came with.

 Despite your safety precautions, you may find yourself in a situation where you are approached by a person who poses a threat to you.  There are a few things that you can do to prevent the situation from becoming dangerous: 

  • Try your best to remain as calm as possible and try not to panic or become angry.  If you are calm, you will be able to react and think more logically.
  • If someone you don’t know stops you for directions or to ask you a question, tell them you are in a hurry and keep walking.  
  • If the person wants your money or wallet, simply give it to them.  In this situation, you don’t want to change theft into a violent circumstance. 
  • If possible, make a conscious effort to remember features about the person in order to be able to give a description about them later.                        
  • If you feel you are being followed, cross the street, go to a more populated area, go into a store or knock on the door of a house nearby to make yourself less vulnerable. If you are being followed by a car, change directions and try to get their license plate number.
  • If you are in an elevator and approached, hit the alarm button and press as many floor buttons as possible;
  • Above all use your instinct, if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.

 If you are approached, and you feel like your safety is threatened, or the person is harassing or scaring you, don’t hesitate to call the police immediately and identify yourself and where you are.

 Tips to help avoid situations that might lead to date rape:

  • Examine your feelings about sex before going too far. Do not just decide what you feel “in the moment.” Deciding beforehand will make you less vulnerable to persuasion and forced intercourse.
  • Set sexual limits for yourself. Do not perform or let anyone perform any sexual act towards you that makes you feel uncomfortable that exceeds your limit. Never feel ashamed about setting limits.
  • If the person you are interested in is someone worth dating, they will respect your limits.
  • Communicate firmly and early to your partner what your expectations for sexual encounters are. This will make it easier for your partner to know and accept your decision.
  • Don’t be afraid to be forceful and firm if you feel uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable or fearful in a situation then get out of there, listen to your instincts.
  • Be aware that alcohol and drugs are often related to date rape. Be sure to always have a friend with you who you trust in situations where you are drinking or using drugs and watch out for each other.

 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE DATE RAPE DRUG:

  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Do not accept a drink from someone you do not know.
  • Be careful who you are drinking with (i.e. Someone you just met).
  • At a party, do not accept any open drinks from anyone other than a trusted friend (even a soft drink may be spiked).
  • Be cautious of what you are drinking (i.e. from a punch bowl at a party).
  • Stay alert when at a party. Be aware of the behavior of your friends. If they appear much more drunk then they should be, you should become concerned and get them home safely.
  • Do not ever leave a party with a stranger or an acquaintance. Do not ever let your friends leave with a stranger or someone they do not know very well.
  • If you suspect you or your friend has ingested the drug, go immediately to the Hospital or call the Police. You can be tested for Rohypnol. This test should be done as soon as possible because the drug can only be detected within 48 to 60 hours of being taken.

What to do if you or someone you know has been raped?

  • Tell someone you trust who can help you. Having the support of a close friend or parent will help a lot. If the victim is someone you know, talk to them and offer them your help.
  • Contact a local sexual assault centre. Many communities have sexual assault centers with counselors and 24/7 sexual assault crisis lines. They can be there for you and to answer any questions you have.
  • Get medical help if you need it. Go see your family doctor or go to your local hospital. If you have concerns about sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy they can also help you. Further, a doctor can also gather evidence that can be used to prosecute the offender. It is common to feel dirty and to want to shower however but it is important not to do this before seeing a doctor as otherwise evidence might be washed away.
  • Report the incident to police. Even if you are unsure whether it was a rape or not they can help you. The reality is if it feels wrong then it probably was.
  • Often victims are afraid of telling anyone because they don’t think anyone will believe them. However, friends, family, medical professionals, and police are there to help you. You will never know if they will believe you or not unless you try.

SAFETY AT SCHOOL

Although school is usually a safe place, difficult situations can sometimes arise.  Because most of your time is spent there, you need to know what’s going on in your school.

If you or someone you know is threatened by another student, take them seriously.  If in doubt on what to do in a situation like that, discuss it with your parents or someone you feel comfortable with, possibly a guidance counselor.

Be careful of people on school property who don’t seem to belong there.  If they appear to be a threat to the safety of the students report it to the principal or someone else of authority in the school.

 If you have problems with other students, becoming involved in a physical fight can make the problem worse.  If you feel that your safety is threatened, letting someone know can help to the situation.  Even though it may seem like a last resort, telling your parents or even teachers may provide a way to keep you from being harmed.  Don’t let pride get in the way of avoiding intimidating situations.

If you are aware of other students bringing weapons to school, report it even if you have to do anonymously to protect your identity.

If someone at school makes you feel uncomfortable by:

  • Comments about your body;
  • Staring at you in an offensive way;
  • Inappropriately touching you, or anything along those lines...

 That is considered sexual harassment and you should let someone know right away because that is not acceptable behaviour.

If you are expected to go straight home from school and you aren’t going to, a call to your parents can’t hurt.  This is to avoid getting in trouble and keeping them from worrying. 

When you leave school, take a reliable route to wherever you are going.  For example, don’t take a ride from someone you don’t know that well or travel alone when you aren’t too sure of where you’re going.

AND AT HOME...

Although being home alone during the day or at night can be fun, it means you are in charge of your house or apartment for the time being.  Translation: taking a few extra precautions is just part of the job.  Whether you are babysitting or your parents are gone out for the night, you need to be on guard.

  • If you answer the phone and aren’t familiar with the person on the other end, don’t let them know you are home alone.  If someone calls for your parents or siblings say they are busy or they are unable to come to the phone at that time.
  • Don’t reveal personal information about yourself over the phone.  If someone calls doing a survey or selling something, just tell them you are unable to answer their questions.
  • Locking the doors and windows prevents people from entering your house without your permission.
  • At night, to make the outside more visible and to make it known that someone is home, leave your front and back lights on.
  • Know whom you can call for assistance if needed.  For example your neighbors, friend’s parents or your parents work.
  • If you live in an apartment, don’t buzz people in that you don’t know.
  • If you have to answer the door, check to see who it is first if you have a peephole or can see outside.  If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t answer the door but if you do answer the door, don’t let them know that you are there by yourself.   
  • Don’t let people you don’t know into the house (even if they say they work for the phone company, hydro or something like that).  Just let your parents know when they get home and they can deal with it.

SAFETY ON THE INTERNET         

Although the internet can be a way to chat with friends, do research for school, and lots of other things, it can also be a very dangerous place.

Safety Tips for the Internet:

  • Never give out personal information about yourself or your family (address, location, name, age, school, telephone number).
  • When in chat rooms, social networking websites and even instant messaging, remember that not everyone is who they say they are. Predators can post fake names, information and pictures (someone claiming to be a 14 year old boy could be a 47 year old man).
  • Predators will even post a fake picture to pretend to be someone else. Therefore, do not plan to personally meet anyone you have met on the internet without first checking with your parents, as you could put yourself in grave danger.
  • If someone harasses you online, walk away from the computer, do not respond. Tell your parents and contact your internet service provider.
  • Predators attempt to lure people your age through the use of the internet. This is a danger to your personal safety and precautions should be taken.

Like bullies in you classroom, there are bullies on the internet. Cyber abuses are carried out by cyber-bullies. This is a unique form of abuse that occurs online or through cell phones in the form of hate messages, bashing websites, hacking, posting mean comments, posing as someone else in order to receive personal/private information etc.

To receive more information on cyber abuse and to report abuse online visit:

www.stopcyberbullying.org
www.netbullies.com
www.wiredsafety.org