Wednesday, April 09, 2014

"Superpredators:" Blast from the Past

Students who have taken my six-week self-defense course for women already know this:  the rate of violence has been in decline for the past couple of decades.

But that was not at all obvious a couple of decades ago.  In fact, the early 1990s saw a spike in youth violence.  Some experts were predicting the worst was yet to come, and felt they needed to deploy hyperbole on what they saw as the inevitable.  The term "superpredator" was coined by political scientist John DiIulio to describe teens who were increasingly violent.  These teens were supposed to unleash chaos upon our fair Gothams.

It never happened.

Almost as if on cue, after these predictions hit the mass media, the crime rate began dropping.  And dropping.  And dropping.  Today's rates of violence are at record lows.


(if the embedded video is not visible here, go here.)

However, hyperbole won out over fact.  Punitive punishments and harsher penalties for juveniles became the law.  Panicky policy repercussions from that era have lingered a long while.

When you consider your personal safety risks, what do you value?  How do you distinguish the hype from the fact?  Predicting the future will never be easy, but you can do better when you winnow out the alarminst labels and recognize the "dog whistles" for what they are.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Watching for OutWatch

In local news, some residents of Seattle's Capitol Hill are getting fed up with street assaults.  According to this article in The Seattle Times, a new neighborhood watch group is in the works.  Dubbed "OutWatch" and modeled after Q-Patrol in the early 1990s (which was modeled after NYC's Guardian Angels of an earlier decade), the current plan seems to have patrols consisting of 4 persons.  Initially, at least 2 of the 4 are supposed to have self-defense training.

[Which is all very nice, except that self-defense may or may not be what they need.  I sure hope their self-defense training included de-escalation training and bystander intervention, which are more valuable skills for this endeavor.  I hope they are also planning on background checks for all volunteers.]

According to the article, it seems the patrols' primary aim is to escort people safely to their cars, homes, or other safe place.  This should be useful -- after all, the police do advise us to keep with a group to reduce risk of assault.  Simply having a presence can also remind us to keep safety and awareness of our surroundings in mind, as well as send a message that people are watching and won't put up with violence in their community.

I wish them luck organizing and sustaining this project. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Entertainment with "Strong Seattle Values"?

My friend Kinny (you likely met her if you took some of my self-defense classes, as she often assists) is an inveterate newspaper reader, and just could not let Jerry Large's column in this week's The Seattle Times pass by without comment. 

I'll let her tell it.

Jerry Large's column touched on ethics and values in sports. All well and good until he wound it up with this:
"I couldn’t escape from real issues through sports that day, so I turned to other entertainment and settled in with my wife (who looks askance at football) to watch an episode of “Downton Abbey.” There’s entertainment for someone with strong Seattle values — the good old days, when aristocrats dressed formally for dinner and of course always behaved perfectly, never raising their voices, even to chide the loyal servants scurrying about their feet." (Full column: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022731774_jdlcolumn23xml.html)
This sounds like vanilla unless you've actually been watching "Downton" lately. A current storyline involves rape.

So I emailed him the following:
Hi Jerry,

I watched both the Seahawks game and "Downton Abbey" on Sunday, and after reading your column today I can't quite believe you did as well. One of the current "Downton" storylines involves the shocking, brutal rape of Anna the lady's maid and its horrific effect on her and those she loves.

Rape is a crime and it is NOT part of our "strong Seattle values."

Football players and fans consent to play and watch the game. Consent – by definition – is not part of rape. Its inclusion in an entertainment program is an ethical question worth as much, if not more consideration than problems in sports. Please ask your wife about the current "Downton" episodes. Though you may have been in the room with her, in my head you were paying a lot more attention to the Sunday funnies or Facebook than the TV. Or maybe you actually were hanging out in the kitchen for most of the program. I don't want to believe you were oblivious.

The football game was a lot less jarring. I loved Richard Sherman's emotional, adrenaline-fueled and completely genuine rant. A little honest trash talk (that wasn't even bleep-worthy) for once, instead of the usual boring platitudes, turns the world upside-down?

Rape: crime. Football: game. 

Sincerely,

Roseanne Kimlinger

What did you do today to challenge rape culture?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So You Want to Learn More About Domestic Violence and Beyond, Eh?


Seattle's Northwest Network is now offering a series of free webinars on various topics related to domestic violence and beyond.  I participated in the first one, which was a powerful combination of basic DV education and empowerment model advocacy.

What is "beyond DV?"  Why, healthy relationships, of course!  It's not sufficient to not be in an abusive relationship, right?  I can't speak for you, but I want my relationships to be fun and fulfilling.  How about you?

NW Network also has a library of on-demand webinars that are directly relevant to any self-defense instructor  — among the topics are strangulation injuries, and intimate partner stalkers, and battered women charged with crimes.  Not exactly light viewing, but highly educational.

http://nwnetwork.org/news-and-events/

From their website:  Founded in 1987 by lesbian survivors of battering, the NW Network works to end abuse in our diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. As an organization founded by and for LGBT survivors, we’re deeply committed to fostering the empowerment of all survivors of abuse.  The NW Network increases our communities’ ability to support the self-determination and safety of bisexual, transgendered, lesbian and gay survivors of abuse through education, organizing and advocacy. We work within a broad liberation movement dedicated to social and economic justice, equality and respect for all people and the creation of loving, inclusive and accountable communities.