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Self-defense for College Students - What are Your Options?

Self-defense for College Students - What are Your Options? [656 words]

Self-defense is on many students' minds right now. Though college campuses are generally considered to be safe places, it is still wise to prepare for the worst. Your options vary depending on many factors: your comfort level with various things; federal and state laws; your school's policies, et cetera. Custom-tailoring a self-defense program that's adequate and legal will take some time and effort, but you'll be thankful that you did it. These are a few of the options that might be available to you.

Situational awareness
This is always available to you. Situational awareness simply means that you know what is happening around you. By paying attention to your surroundings—the people and things in the vicinity-you can prevent many bad situations. Watch peoples' body language. Avoid walking into a situations that don't feel or look "right." Pay attention to what other people are doing and saying. These are just a few simple things that you should do at all times.

Campus security
Many schools offer students rides with campus officers who are in full uniform. This is helpful, especially after dark. Visit your campus police department's Web site or their actual office for information about other safety programs and courtesies

Martial arts
Many people have escaped danger by using martial arts training against an attacker. These arts take considerable time to master, but for many people the discipline, exercise and confidence that they learn are well worth the investment. You can also take a more specialized self-defense course: many are just a few weeks long at the most.

Pepper/OC spray
Spray is not legal on every college campus Consult your school's student handbook to make sure that you can carry a canister on your person. Before you start carrying, though, make sure that you know how to use the spray - and what can happen if you do something wrong. Cross-contamination (spraying yourself when the wind is blowing toward you and not toward the attacker) is a very real concern among people who use sprays. You should also make sure that you're able to quickly disengage any safety mechanism on the can and spray the attacker. Many people suggest buying an extra can of spray for practice: this is a good idea.

Again: this might not be legal in your area or on your campus. Some batons are small enough to fit on your key chain. With proper training and practice, you can be confident in your ability to use this deceptively-small device against an attacker. Many of these batons are made of steel. They're light enough to tote around on the key chain, but heavy and dense enough to discourage a would-be attacker.

With few exceptions, firearms - even legally-carried concealed firearms-are forbidden on college campuses. If you can carry on campus, though, make sure that you're licensed to do so. You should also take defensive-shooting courses with a professional instructor, spend as much time on the shooting range as possible and make sure that your gun is in good working order.

These are just a few of the most common self-defense tools and weapons that might be available to you. There are quite a few others: most will require just as much, if not more, training and practice as these.

Combining multiple techniques and tools is a great way to create a well-rounded defense. You should always be aware of your surroundings, for example, but you should also add a more "immediate" course of action in case something goes wrong.

Preparing in advance is the best way to prevent, or escape, bad situations Part of this preparation is the self-defense skills that you might need someday. Another part - one that is equally important - is making sure that you're legally able to use whatever tools or training you've acquired. You don't want to get into legal trouble if you're caught carrying something that's forbidden in that area.

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