THIS MONTHS ARTICLES
(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 28th Sep)
This blog is prompted by an incident that occurred in Saugus, Massachusetts (a town just a few miles away from where my Krav Maga school is located), where two men (one underage), and a female sexually assaulted a 16 year old girl. Whilst the majority of sexual assaults and rapes are conducted by men, there are women who engage is such crimes, against both sexes (male and female), as well as against adolescents and children. In many cases the media and the legal system, as well as society, has a bias in not treating sexual assaults by women, as seriously as they do those committed by men e.g. a female teacher who sleeps with underage male students, is not looked on or judged as a sexual predator in the same way that a male teacher who has sex with underage girls is etc.
This blog touches on some of the ways, and the roles that women play in sexual assaults both against adults as well as minors.
Women may be accomplices to male sexual assaults for a number of reasons. They may be equal perpetrators or even the primary assailant/motivator, using a male friend or accomplice to assist them in the assault. There are female sadists, as well as male sadists, who get sexual excitement from the pain of others – either male or female. Just as certain male rapists, derive motivation for their assaults due to having been emasculated by a dominant female in their past (they see the assault on unknown victims, as a means of gaining back the power and control – dominance – that was denied to them in the past), there are women who have a similar level of anger towards women in general and are motivated in the same way; they want to exert control and dominance over other women. If they can team up with either an easily lead male, or a male who shares a similar desire to sexually dominate other women, then they will have an accomplice who can help them in their assaults. They may also be aware that even if they are the primary motivator of the assault, the legal system is more likely to judge their male counterpart to be the instigator and primary assailant, rather than them.
Women may become accomplices to gain attention, power and status, either from an individual or from a group. In many gangs, where girls are routinely, sexually abused by male gang members (gangbangs, trains etc.), a female member can sometimes gain status and exemptions if she orchestrates and sets up the assaults – this may be a way to avoid becoming a victim herself, using the sexual management of the other female members as a way to give herself a different type of value to the gang.
Some women will reluctantly acquiesce to the sexual demands of an individual or partner who they may be scared of, or want to please, and end up becoming an accomplice to their sexual assaults of women and even children, even though this wasn’t really there intent. Sometimes this “learnt” behavior becomes their default sexual motivator e.g. they now get a sexual thrill from assaulting other women and/or children.
Pedophiles by and large are male, however there are female child molesters. One of the ways female pedophiles tend to differ from their male counterparts, is that they have a tendency to focus on individual victims, rather than build up large networks of victims – though in cases of incest a father may focus just on their own children. Whilst sadistic females, who sexually abuse children do exist, many female pedophiles developed their sexual deviance, whilst engaging in acts of pedophilia with a male counterpart; that which they may have first been reluctant to engage in and do, now becomes their sexual norm/default. People are able to change and modify their sexual desires, which is often witnessed in male prisoners who have been incarcerated for sexual crimes, where over the course of time, the demographic that they used to prey upon changes e.g. they may have originally been attracted to women aged 18-22, but over a period of time, the age reduces till they become attracted to girls aged 8-12, and over a further period of time, their attraction changes to boys in this age group. This is not true of all rapists and sexual offenders, however it does demonstrate that sexual desire can be subject to change, and whilst there are women who did not start out with an “inherent” desire to sexually abuse children, through being exposed to such acts, may start to develop a sexual attraction for minors.
There are of course cases of women sexually assaulting other women, independently without a male accomplice; there are lesbian rapists, who for a variety of motives choose to assault other women and there are also women, who sexually assault men – while some might argue that such assaults are not possible, because for male sexual arousal to occur the individual has to be “willing”, it is worth pointing out that pedophiles are able to get their male victims to respond physically, even if they are emotionally and sexually unwilling to engage in the acts demanded of them. It is also worth noting that for a sexual assault to occur, there doesn’t even have to be arousal – the assault just has to be sexual in nature.
Whilst male sexual assailants by far make up the larger group and number, it would be wrong to think that there aren’t female sexual predators as well, along with women who will act as accomplices for a variety of reasons – fear, status, attention etc. It is not clear in the case of the Saugus Assault (mentioned at the start of this article), what role the female assailant played, and what her motivations were, however it is worth accepting that she could have been played an equal part in the assault as the man and the boy who were there.
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(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 21st Sep)
The law in Massachusetts changed in 2014, to allow persons over the age of 18, to purchase and carry pepper and other defensive sprays, without having to have an FID card (Firearm Identification Card). This gives women over the age of 18, the opportunity to carry pepper spray without having to go through an application process, or complete any paperwork. This article, aims to explain how, where and when the use of pepper spray is appropriate and effective, along with situations where it is probably not applicable to use. This article will also explain the different types of spray, and the pros and cons of each – and in what situations one type may be more effective than another.
The first thing to note is that not all defensive sprays are the same. There are basically two types: OC sprays (Oleoresin Capsicum) which are derived/extracted from different types of pepper, and are referred to as “Pepper” sprays, and CS/CN Sprays, which comprise of a man made, non-organic chemical, 2-chlorobenzalmalononitril, which is known as “Tear Gas” (MACE, is a type of CS/CN Spray). The two are not the same, and although they have similar effects, there are major differences as well.
Pepper spray (OC) is an inflammatory agent i.e. it inflames tissue – it causes the eyes to shut immediately (if the eyes do stay open the capillaries will dilate causing temporary blindness), and causes the tissue of the nose and throat to swell effecting breathing. CS Spray (of which MACE is a type), is an irritant – it causes stinging and discomfort (to which some people are, and/or can become immune to). As an irritant it causes the eyes to tear/water but not to close, and it can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. Another big difference between the two, is that CS/CN Sprays can take 5 seconds or longer, to have an effect, whereas Pepper or OC Spray is effective immediately. 5 Seconds may not seem a long time, however you should consider that the average attacker will be able to run 30 yards in that time, and it is unlikely that any assailant you face will be that far away. Using something that is instantaneously effective is a much safer way to go.
Unless you have been sprayed with pepper spray, it is easy to underestimate its effects. When sprayed a person will instantaneously be blinded, their breathing will be affected to the point where they feel the equivalent of an asthma attack. At the same time their face (or whatever skin comes in to contact with the spray) will burn. When you choose a spray you should look at its SHU (Scoville Heat Units) value; this will determine how hot it is. A Jalepeno pepper has an SHU value of anywhere between 3500 and 10000, most pepper sprays have a SHU value of between 3 to 5 million. This means that on average you are basically rubbing 300-1000 of the hottest peppers, into somebody’s eyes and face. From a self-defense perspective this is both effective from a sheer pain perspective, as well as from closing the eyes, and effecting the breathing.
The percentage value on the spray e.g. 5 to 15 %, is less important than the SHU value. A can of pepper spray contains three things: the propellant (that which forces the spray out of the canister), a carrier (either water or oil based), and the active ingredient itself – the pepper. The percentage value simply refers to how much of the carrier and the active agent, is the pepper itself. A spray with a value of 5% or more should be sufficient.
Carrying a spray (or any other weapon for that matter) however effective will not be of much use unless it is ready to hand, and there may be situations that you find yourself in where you don’t have easy access to it. If you are at a party, a social gathering, or with a friend or acquaintance in your house or somebody else’s it is unlikely that you will have your spray within easy reach. If a situation is not overtly threatening you probably won’t have your spray with you, and in reality it is these situations, which are mostly like to contain danger/risk e.g. most women are likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know in their home or somebody else’s. This should not deter you from carrying pepper spray, it is just to point out that it is not a replacement for following personal safety protocols. The situations where pepper spray is an effective tool are largely those when you are threatened by a stranger e.g. dealing with aggressive/dangerous individuals in parking lots, on the street, when you are in your car, when you are answering your door etc.
There are four different types of spray: foggers/cones, streams, gels and foams. If you have to default to one type, you should probably get a fogger/cone. These type of sprays, spray out a conical fine mist, and don’t require much accuracy i.e. point it in the rough direction of an aggressor and depress the trigger. Streams require a bit more accuracy; you have to aim and make sure that it connects with your assailant’s face – with the cone/fogger because it mists, anyone coming towards you through it, is going to make contact with it and inhale it. Gels and Foams work well, when your assailant is close to you, however your real aim of using the spray is to deal with attackers at a distance - having a gel or foam, in your car might be a good way of dealing with aggressive individuals who approach you in it.
The one disadvantage the cone/fogger has, is that strong winds can affect the way it disperses i.e. because it creates a fine mist. However the advantages that the other sprays have are largely effected by distance; they either need to be fired accurately which makes them more useful at closer ranges, or actually can’t be fired from great distances e.g. foam and gels. When you consider this, a fogger/cone at close range won’t really be affected by the weather and is therefore at least equal to these other types.
When you purchase your spray you should test it. You should also do this roughly every 6 months. The last thing you want is a spray that doesn’t work, when you most need it. The easiest way to test it, is to go outside on a non-windy day, and spray a small amount. Then direct your head towards it and breathe in. If it causes you to cough etc. it is probably still good. If not replace it.
Pepper spray is a great tool to add to your self-defense/personal safety arsenal, however it will be largely ineffective if you are unable to recognize threats, and identify dangerous people before they get to close to you, and so you should not believe that carrying spray in and of itself will keep you safe.
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(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 15th Sep)
There is nothing technically difficult about using OC/CS Spray i.e. you literally point it at somebody's face and spray. Because of this, many people feel safe and secure because they own and carry a canister of pepper spray or Mace etc. The same is true of many firearms owners; you have a gun and by default this means your safe. A firearm, in many ways is an equally simple weapon as OC/CS Spray e.g. take the safety off, point, and pull the trigger. The sophistication of both tools comes not from their mechanical deployment, but from everything that has to happen in order for them to be correctly deployed and used e.g. if you aren't able to create the time and space to draw either weapon, the fact that you carry either one or both of them will be of little consequence. A can of OC Spray at the bottom of a bag, or a gun that can't be drawn when under stress and duress, creates a false sense of security, that is more of a liability than a security asset.
To be able to utilize either tool, you need to be able to effectively recognize a threat or danger early enough in the process of an assault - and to judge the appropriate level of response. This is one of the great benefits to carrying pepper spray, even if you also carry a firearm; it's a non-lethal tool that is applicable in situations where the use of lethal force may not be appropriate - which is why law enforcement and security will often carry both weapons. Because OC/CS Spray is a less than lethal option, a carrier should have little or no hesitation in using it i.e. the effects last for about 30 minutes and after that the person sprayed can go about their daily business. Making a judgment call as to whether you are entitled to shoot somebody, and whether you are prepared to live with the consequences of your actions, may cause you to hesitate in a situation, where your life was at risk and you should have acted decisively.
If you are unable to protect the space around you to a depth of 3 feet, it is unlikely that you will have the time to get to any weapon - unless you have practiced this under duress, and are able to create time and space within a physical altercation. The further back/away you are from your assailant, when the assault begins the greater the chance of successfully deploying your weapon. The sooner you recognize a threat, the more distance you will be able to keep between you and your attacker, and the greater your survival chances will be. It isn't enough just to carry pepper spray, you must be able to recognize danger early enough on, to give yourself a chance to deploy it.
At first glance, all sprays may seem to be the same however there are many different types, ranging from gels, to streams, to foam etc. There are also differences between the percentage values, the SHU values, and the carrier - whether it is oil or water based etc. All of these things make a difference, both in the effectiveness of the spray, and the way in which it should be used. As with any weapon you carry you should be familiar with its working and the effectiveness of it e.g. what's the capabilities of a small frame revolver, over a hand cannon etc. Just picking up a can of pepper spray, and believing that's the end of your thought process, and you have somehow ticked a personal safety box, is naïve. You should be familiarizing yourself with it, and ensuring/testing that it stays active. Any weapon you carry needs to fit in to an overall self-defense strategy and not be seen as an isolated tool or solution.
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(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 7th Sep)
Personal Safety takes effort and requires change, which is why many people neglect it; they would rather stay in a state of denial, believing it won't happen to them, or cripple themselves with worst case scenarios, that although are highly improbable are almost impossible to solve. In last weeks blog I talked about dropping my kid off at school (it was his first day), and the way the school run is an opportunity to demonstrate to those that may be watching, that our children are not soft targets; that someone is watching them and are involved in their lives. In this weeks blog, I'm going to look at CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, as schools give us many good and bad examples how their layout and environment both prevent and facilitate crime, and how we can take lessons from this, to apply to our own environments, such as home and work settings.
My son's school, has a parking lot at the front where teachers and other staff members can park their cars. The principals parking position is clearly marked. Being the principal of any school, sets you up for potential conflict, with parents, former students, and other people associated with the school. Whilst having a designated parking spot is a privilege, and may be necessary for the smooth running of the school e.g. you don't want the head of the school, to have to search for a spot to park etc. it is a risk advertising to all and sundry that this is where the principal parks, and this is their car. Any person who has any form of grudge against the school, or the individual, knows where they will be heading at the end of the day and/or can tamper with their car e.g. cutting the brake lines.
A while back we started filming a Home Invasion and Home Security DVD, with Dave Ashworth (a security specialist/expert). It was a simple project, where he wandered round a friend of ours house, and basically pointed out, where and how he'd be able to break in, and how quickly he'd be able to navigate his way through the house once inside (He also showed how using the natural layout of the house, how a person could restrict and slow down somebody's entry and movement during a home invasion). Something he pointed out was that the house had doors which were labelled and named e.g. the bathroom had a sign on it saying bathroom, children's bedrooms had doors with their names on etc. His point was that, an intruder would know which rooms to exclude and which ones would be of interest etc. In a home invasion or similar time is of the essence; causing an invader to hesitate, or have to check a room could gain vital seconds for people to either evacuate or get to a safe room or more defensible position. Signage is important to direct people but it can also compromise security; a balance has to be reached e.g. is it necessary to have a sign saying bathroom, when this gives an assailant/invader a room they can check off their list of ones to search.
It is great to have your child's picture, with their name, put up on display outside their classroom, however if you have an emotionally volatile estranged partner, advertising that your child is near to this picture, is not in your child's best interest i.e. it will make it easy for them to locate your child for an abduction/hostage scenario - although such instances are rare, if you believe your child is at risk, you should request such pictures be removed etc.
The canteen/dining area of my son's school, is right next to the entrance. Whilst it can be used as a large room to move kids into when they first enter the school, and acts as a great holding pen, it also means that anyone wanting to engage in a mass/spree shooting, has little distance to travel before they get to a large number of potential victims - should they choose a time when they know large numbers of children will be gathered in this location e.g. at lunch time. If you have a choice as to which rooms you should use as bedrooms in an apartment, house or condo, choosing rooms as far away from the main entrance will increase your personal safety.
There is a Chinese proverb that goes along the lines of, the rabbit builds a burrow with many exits i.e. don't ever restrict yourself to having just one escape route. Look at the layout of the furniture in your house, and see if there are any enclosed areas in which you could be trapped, or your movement restricted etc. Understand what pieces of furniture could be used as barriers and obstacles to slow a person/attacker down etc. If you have areas in your home where you could be trapped look at opening them up, so this wouldn't be possible.
CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, is not looking to create Home Alone scenarios, involving complex traps etc. but how you can use and adapt the environment around you to prevent certain crimes and assaults. It may be an effort to change the way we lead our lives, such as removing the principals parking spot notice, and replacing it with a number that the teaching staff understand to be exclusiatory but from a safety perspective it makes sense to do. Ypu should look to control your environment and use it to protect you rather than facilatate crimes and assaults against you.
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(Gershon Ben Keren - Tue 2nd Sep)
Sometimes blog posts are extremely personal. This is one of them. I am writing this whilst my son pretends that this is bedtime and he is getting ready to fall asleep, though really he is just reading a book and laughing, at the bad jokes in it (I have read parts of the book and the jokes are bad). Tomorrow I will take him to school, for the first day of a new term. We have a routine: I walk with him till we get to the school, and then he walks the length of the building on his own, till he enters. I didn't have a happy time at school early on, as I was bullied, so watching him make that walk alone is always somewhat personally painful. Tomorrow, I start doing the school run again (Summer Holidays are over).
However I also understand that I am not the only one watching him, and that is one of the reasons I stay. Predatory individuals whether they are burglars or pedophiles are far more aware of our actions, behaviors and movements than we are e.g. a burglar working your neighborhood will be very aware of the times that your car is on your driveway and when it is not. Pedophiles, are similarly observant, noticing when you are texting on your phone instead of watching your child, and when you turn and walk away before you confirm your child has actually entered the school doors etc. These are things I have seen many parents do, and I understand it - we are all busy, hurried, and stressed, wanting to complete tasks, so that we can move on to the next one; the school run, is just one of these, and we want it over as quickly as possible, so we can move on - I've been there.
The school run, though is a statement about who you are and how your family operates. If anyone is watching my son with predatory interest, he knows there is someone who cares enough to make sure that their child enters the school when they could have left a bit earlier, entrusting their child's safety to the teachers and staff who patrol the front of the school. Pedophiles look for an in, and a big one of these is an indication that a parent is distracted or harried - the school run gives an indication of this (it doesn't have to be true, but rushing off after dropping your child off, sends this message to such observers). Believe me, I have a thousand things I need to do, before, during and after the school run however nobody needs to know this.
I also often hear parents when they drop their children off, tell them to do what their teachers tell them. Pedophiles are attracted to industries and jobs that give them access to children e.g. schools, churches, sports teams etc. This doesn't mean we should believe every adult who is interested in working with children is a pedophile, rather we should recognize that pedophiles will be attracted to such professions and groups. Telling our kids to do what people in positions of responsibility say, sets a dangerous precedent i.e. they may do things that may not be in their best interest. If we instruct our children to what is wrong e.g. being touched in the places your bathing suit covers is wrong, we can communicate personal safety advice to our children without spooking them.
Does your child have a good, this is what I did last summer essay to write. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't have to be spectacular, but does it contain stories that involve adults who were obviously involved and concerned about a child's safety e.g. will it be about an unsupervised sleepover, or about a family trip etc. Predatory individuals examine everything, when they are looking for potential victims, and any signal of disinterest, and/or lack of concern, will put your child on their radar.
We can't make ours and our child's lives bullet proof, but we can present an image to any onlooker that show we care, and that we are involved in our children's lives. We can give them real experiences that they can recall with enjoyment, and not require others to fulfill such experiences for them. Kids are very understanding of parents situations etc. and will brag and boast about them, and the way they were involved in their upbringing/experiences at any given opportunity e.g. a 1 hour fishing trip, will be recalled and communicated as if it were a week long expedition etc. If you give your kids these experiences and promote yourself as an observant parent, there are few pedophiles will target them, or be able to groom them - simple parenting is as close to bullet proof child protection as you will get.
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