Being the victim of a crime can leave someone feeling helpless, hopeless and powerless. Fortunately, you don’t have to stuff yourself into a spandex costume and run across rooftops beating up bad guys to do your part to prevent crime. Here is how, as a part of The ShieldWall Network, you can use crime-fighting to become a person of influence in your community.
There are many simple actions the average person can take to help protect themselves and their neighbors from being the victim of a crime. With just a little time and effort, you can take control of your neighborhood and keep yourself safe from criminals.
We’ll talk about some ways you can prevent crime in your own community. Most of these have already been done by various ShieldWall Network affiliates.
Learn about local agencies or nonprofit organizations that already exist in your community. This is a great place to find the support and resources you may need.
Connect people in the community (especially youth) to activities or programs that help them find positive ways to spend their spare time. After school programs, tutoring centers, part-time work, and volunteer opportunities go a long way toward keeping youths and adolescents away from negative influences. If you have kids, get them involved in local events such as the 4H, and volunteer yourself to network with other parents.
Set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol that works in collaboration with local police. A trusted neighbor who keeps a vigilant eye on your home is one of the best crime deterrents there is.
Build a partnership with police focused on solving problems instead of reacting to crisis. Make it possible for neighbors to report suspicious activity or crimes without fear of retaliation.
Clean up the neighborhood! Organizing a neighborhood clean up is great way to get people out of the house, and working together around a common cause. Buildings with broken windows, abandoned cars, and even litter sends a message to criminals that the community has become complacent. Call the city public works department and ask for help cleaning up.
Get creative. Ask your local city council to pass an anti-noise ordinance, update housing codes, and include drug-free clauses in rental agreements. These small actions help to create an inhospitable environment for criminals, and will hopefully cause them to leave on their own.
Research and make a list of registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. Create flyers with their picture, address, and descriptions of their crimes. Distribute these around the community, passing them out door to door.
Create and distribute a list of local organizations that can provide counseling, job training, guidance, and other services that could benefit people in the community.
Report suspicious activity to police. Cooperate by providing statements and witness testimony if you have information that could lead to the apprehension of a criminal.
Locate crisis centers, support groups, and service hotline numbers and make these resources available to victims of crime. Find out how you can help those who have been affected by violence to recover as quickly and completely as possible.
Start a weekly discussion group. It can be as minimal as a regular gathering at a neighbor’s house to share ideas and communicate with each other about what you see going on in the community. This also provides great opportunities to update your neighbors on your current schedule, or let them know if you’ll be out of town.
Express support for funding and effective implementation of community wellness programs and events by writing to elected officials in your city.
Help to connect school services to outside networks of community services that can help students and their families cope with domestic or financial problems.
Sometimes the right combination of networking, organizing, and communicating can have a huge impact on our surroundings. You don’t have to give up all your free time, or perform nightly patrols around the perimeter of your neighborhood to prevent crime in your community. A little effort can go a long way!