Prediction, prevention, and response are the general terms for the three options each of has when dealing with potential risks. We can predict that if we drive a vehicle at high speeds with a flat tire, we are more likely to be involved in a accident. That typically leads us to avoid the risk by taking some sort of action. We can prevent it from occurring by checking tire pressure periodically, or visually inspecting the vehicle prior to operation. We could respond by decreasing vehicle speeds when the car starts to become unstable. Clearly, response is the inferior option here. When it comes to safety these concepts are easy to grasp, but when it comes to personal security, they are largely ignored.
The term ‘personal security’ brings up a variety of thoughts, ideas, and definitions that vary widely from person to person. Some view it as a locked door, a security camera, a policeman or security guard, or an alarm. Having participated in, managed, and taught security practices for most of my adult life, I am continually confronted by two common misconceptions about security. These misconceptions hold true for military personnel, law enforcement and private citizens alike, and they likely stem from our tendency to generally define security in the terms previously mentioned.
The most common approach to personal safety and security is to simply ignore the potential that violence will impact you. We see this attitude in the bulk of people with whom we interact and it spans the spectrum of experience and backgrounds. This slice of society chooses to ignore the fact that criminals and miscreants might choose to target them. While they will readily acknowledge the existence of crime, they simply cannot conceive that it will impact them.
There are a number of factors in our society that reinforce this belief. The first is that, statistically, two-thirds of our society will not be the victim of a violent crime in their lifetime. If each day I look back on my lifetime and I have never been the victim of violence, then I have quite likely conditioned myself to believe that I will not be a victim today, or on any day in the future. This self-reinforcing delusion, is a powerful motivator to ignore potential risks and focus on “more pressing issues”.
The second is that the education system in America is convinced that if you insulate children from failure, risk, or negativity, we will produce happier, healthier citizens. We see this in the ‘no grades, everyone gets a trophy, everyone is special’ mentality. Worse, we see
it in zero tolerance policies towards altercations or the suspension of students for pointing “Finger guns” or “pop tart guns” at fellow students. These police and actions remove the learning experience surrounding violence or simulated violence. Certainly, if I was the victim of a finger gun day after day, I could ignore it, enlist classmates or teachers to assist me, or change my behavior so that my finger gun pointer would choose to point it at someone else… Unless of course, I had no option save dependence on the system to protect me. It places the responsibility on the education system to protect them, leaving the child helpless in the equation.
While I understand the theory, unfortunately what these attitudes and policies actually produce is a society of victims. From an economic perspective, that upward pressure on the supply curve (supply of victims) places downward pressure on the price of crime, creating more incentive for criminals activity. The more victims in a given population, the more criminals that will be produced to accommodate them. Creating a system of dependence is exactly how third world politics is played, and it is sad to see the American political system following suit.
Another counter-productive societal norm is that there is a persistent belief that someone else is responsible for an individual’s personal security. The reality is that no one can effectively take responsibility for someone else’s security. People who live in an environment where they are told they are helpless, or that it is unnecessary to take a personal interest in their own security, are unlikely to do so on their own. This leads to the next most common misconception; that personal security is the responsibility of someone else.
Be it police, military, or firemen, any safety or protective services professional will tell you that it is impossible for another person or group of people to guarantee the safety and security of any single person. Read more >>
Author – Patrick Henry (President at Aegis Academy)
Patrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then five years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary firm specializing in training military special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.