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Safety in Numbers – Is it Another Common Misconception?

Would you rather walk with a crowd or through isolated alleys in an unknown place?

Who doesn’t enjoy a walk in the night as the chill wind hits you in your face, the moonlight lights up the path in front and the serenity of the atmosphere calms your nerves.

But how often would you go out? Unless it’s a part of your daily routine, maybe once, twice or thrice a week. Perhaps, a month or never.

If you conduct a mini survey and ask the same question to people around you, expect a couple of negative answers. But, that’s just the way it is. 

Nation Master had published a list of 15 different countries and their public opinions on the perception of safety while walking in the dark. Note that this was way back in 2000, before the 9/11 incident.

Now, the times are changing. Most of the news is about terrorist attacks, homicides, vandalism and other threats to public safety. 

Here’s something from the present: a security provider firm from Canada has accumulated data from various sources to create this vivid infographic on public safety.

While it focuses more importantly on the necessity of guards to act as barriers and monitor the public, one thing’s certain – the community is and has always been in danger. It doesn’t matter if you move in groups or on your own, there’s always the chance of getting hit.

Having said that, I believe that the concept of safety in numbers doesn’t always hold true. Let me explain it clearly.

Consider a situation in which a lion (a vicious predator) spots a bull (prey), it would mindlessly charge hoping for a quick kill knowing that there are no other buffalos in the vicinity. However, it would flee once it hears a stampede of bulls running towards it. (remember Lionking?)

Safety in numbers prevails.

All animals have this specific trait called survival instinct. Being an evolutionary class of animals, some of us have inherited this whereas people like this and this have certainly not. 

Well, this wouldn’t have been the case if a terrorist was attacking a group of people. No fear, no remorse. Wouldn’t it have been safer if there were fewer people? That’s exactly what I was trying to say.

Does that mean you’re better off living in a lonely neighborhood than in a crowded city? Well, trying to prove this hypothesis wrong isn’t the problem but rather finding effective ways to deal with these threats.

So, how do we do it?

The government expenditure on public safety is a massive amount which is a good proportion of the GDP. They’re also actively contributing by recruiting trained safety personnel from security agencies. Many private firms are following the trend too.

Reinforcing surveillance systems, hiring guards, and increasing self-awareness are a few things I can think off the top of my head. I’m not a security professional myself so here’s a guide on how to respond to an emergency situation. That pretty much sums up all the counter measures.

Stay safe and don’t panic.

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