What can people do to better protect themselves from violent acts?
Idea's to help protect oneself or group.
Perhaps one suggestion would be -- remain aware of where you are, what you and others are doing and what's going on around you at all times. Being aware of strange or unusual circumstances -- no matter where one is -- gives an edge as to how to react and deal with the unexpected. As to actual protection, ie.,martial arts, weapon, etc. that's a personal decision for each person. As to protecting a group I'd say the same rules apply. There are some unexpected situations -- such as the Colorado shooting -- that catch either an individual or a group totally by surprise. Personally, I've gone through various dangerous scenarios (including being attacked by a vicious dog) in my head and tried to reason out what I'd do in each situation -- might not help but can't hurt!
Though there is no way to guarantee perfect safety, I have found that by avoiding places which attract crowds you can reduce the probabliity of a bad encounter. I NEVER go to movie theaters anymore. I rent or buy a DVD and watch a film at home. (Watching a great film in bed with a loved one is more fun anyway.) I avoid shopping malls, concerts, dense neighborhoods, freeways, etc. Yes, you sacrifice some enjoyment and social engagement, but there are always trade offs... There will always be a certain percentage of people who are violent or mentally disturbed. There is no way to completely avoid that. So try to take the road less travelled - enjoy the scenery and the peace and quiet.
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