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Posted by on February 13, 2020

Assaults on or near school campuses happen all too frequently. Women are most often targeted but men have been assaulted as well. 

Two examples in the GTA.

  • In March 2018. A 23-year-old woman waiting in a bus shelter in the area of Finch Avenue West and Sentinel Road around 5:30 a.m. was approached by a man who covered mouth and dragged her into the nearby hydro field where he sexually assaulted her.
  • On January 22, 2020. A 23-year-old woman was attacked, stabbed and shot while walking on a path leading from to York University campus.  

In these cases, the victims were leaving or returning to campus. It is often during these travels when assaults happen. Here are 9 tips to develop your awareness and be safe.  

1. Avoid shortcuts through isolated routes. Attackers tend to target people who are alone and prefer places with few or no witnesses. A longer route might be inconvenient but also safer.  

2. Minimize distractions. Many of us hinder our senses with headphones or texting. Limiting your sight and hearing increases your chance of being targeted by an opportunistic predatory and limits your ability to anticipate danger.  

3. Use Walk Safe Programs. Some schools like Carleton University offer services where you can be escorted on campus.  

4. Walk in Pairs or Groups. Assailants prefer to target people who are alone.

5. Notify People of your arrival and departure. If possible, notify people of when you are leaving and ask them to watch for you as you arrive. Some friends will even meet you along the way.  

6. Look for Hiding Spots. Be aware of places an assailant might be hiding. Behind the corner of a building, a pillar, car, large tree. If you need to pass such a place, maximize your distance from the potential hiding spot to give you more reaction time.  

7. Travel Light. It is difficult to react, to escape, when we are burdened with a backpack full of books or our hands are loaded with grocery bags. Try to minimize what you carry.  

8. Be aware of body language. Be aware of where people place their hands. Are they behind their back, in their pockets, under a sweater they are carrying? If so, they might be concealing a weapon.  

9. Evoke confidence and awareness. Predators prefer the unaware and the insecure. Walk upright, chin up, and look around, demonstrating you are confident and aware of your surroundings.  

Not all assaults can be avoided. Greater awareness, however, can prevent some assaults and make your walks to and from school safer.  

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