Sad to say, but if there’s one thing we have enough of in our country, it’s criminals! Not to say there aren’t a lot of really good folks around, but there are also those who want to scam, overcharge, rob, or bully others. The National Crime Prevention Council designated October as Crime Prevention Month in 1984. Since that time, government agencies, schools, civic groups, businesses and youth organizations have strived to educate the public, showcase their accomplishments, and explore new partnerships during this special month. This is the official month for recognizing the practice of crime prevention, while promoting awareness of important issues such as victimization, volunteerism, and creating safer, more caring communities. This month-long celebration highlights successful crime prevention efforts on the local, state, and national levels.
When we talk about keeping one another safe, we must spread the word about preventing bullying; scamming on the internet or phone; preventing graffiti; vandalism; hate crimes; gang violence;dating violence; sexual harassment; criminal recidivism, drug abuse, cyberbulling; sexting; and domestic violence. According to the Crime Prevention Council, these crimes have been on the agenda of community activists and law enforcement personnel alike in the past year.
October also marks the start of the sixth year of Celebrate Safe Communities events. This association is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, and was created by NCPC and the National Sheriff’s Association. It’s all about local folks working with local leaders to address local problems. This way, we can celebrate safe communities every day! Some events of the Celebrate Safe Communities require partnership with local law authorities, such as a community trash pickup, tour of a local law enforcement agency, or community safety fair. The Circle of Respect is one of NCPC’s major programs, and this project incorporates the theme of respect for others – neighbors, seniors, the entire community. Why not do your part to become a promoter or follower of the Circle of Respect?
One way to prevent crime is to not be a victim -keep your home safe. First, you should have effective locks on all doors. Even the best locks can’t protect you, if you don’t use them. Lock the door every time you leave. If you plan to be gone for an extended period of time, leave the yard looking neat, so the house doesn’t look vacant, and there are no hiding places for burglars. Be sure all entrances of the home are well lit. Timers or solar-powered lights make it hard for burglars to hide. Leave the radio or t.v. on, to give the appearance that you are home. Leave a spare key with your neighbor, never hide it on the property. Prowlers are usually able to find hidden keys easier than you can. It’s not a good idea to announce where you are going, or how long you plan to be gone. Let your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media friends find out where you’ve been when you get back. You can tell family or friends, but leave it off the information highway.
Start a new Neighborhood Crime Watch Group. NCW is a partnership between residents and law enforcement to improve safety and prevent crime. Here are some of the things you can learn with NCW:
- Who your neighbors are and how to work with them.
- How and why crime happens.
- How to use a neighborhood map and roster to communicate.
- How to improve home security and personal safety.
- How to recognize and report suspicious activity.
- Active NCW groups with visible NCW signs can deter crime.
If you live in rural communities, you can organize your own watch group, usually by word of mouth. One of my neighbors cautioned me the other night about walking over to my other neighbor’s house to set out the trash. It was around 11 p.m., and she had heard there were some thefts in our area. There was a streetlight, but she was right to warn me that I should wait till morning to do errands for my friends who were out of town.
Good neighbors can also choose a safe house in the neighborhood, where children know they can go if they need help. Work with your neighbors and watch for suspicious and unusual behavior in your neighborhood. We must look out for each other, and help stop crime.
National Crime Prevention Council