Security Flowers

I first learned about security flowers in my grandmother’s neighborhood when I was growing up. Most of the homes on her block had bay windows in front and back. A favorite hiding place for us as kids was under the windows because the bushes just in front of them hid us from view. However, the workability of that hiding place did not last long, due to the security flowers soon planted there.

I’m talking about the rose bushes that replaced the original bushes that were great to hide behind. The roses were great security flowers for two reasons. First, they had amazingly pointed thorns that resulted in scratches and puncture wounds that would very quickly grow red and irritated. Second, the roses and some of the insects on them attracted several kinds of wasps.

After our initial experiences getting scratched, punctured and stung, you couldn’t get us anywhere near those roses. They were a great security device, as they would deter anyone seeking to hide in the typical hiding places around those homes.

Today we would call that crime prevention through environmental design, or CPTED (prounounced “sep-ted”).

But this is not an article about CPTED. It is actually about a personal safety and security book for women that I highly recommend, and which I have purchased for my wife and daughter. That’s how I started reading it.

The Safety Chick

The book is A Girl’s Gotta Do What a Girl’s Gotta Do by Kathleen Baty, also known as “The Safety Chick”. As of this writing there are still about several dozen new paperback copies available on Amazon at less than $5.00 (a few copies from overstock) plus about 2 dozen used copies as well. Apparently the original hardcover and softcover printings have sold out.

Chapter 4 on home safety is what got me thinking about “security flowers”, which is not a term used in the book but would fit there.

The chapters on stalking and workplace violence are very relevant to businesses, and I thinkevery company should provide a copy for their women personnel in receptionist and customer service positions, as well as women who travel for sales or other business reasons.

It is not condescension or male prejudice that prompts me to say that. Women are four times more likely to be stalked than men.1 Men of all ages and in all parts of the world are more violent than women.2 These are facts.

However, there is a male prejudicial element involved in the situation. We simply don’t have the correct picture. For one thing, the common ideas that men have about what leads up to violence against women are incorrect. Secondly, we generally tend to be more dismissive of personal risk factors than the facts would warrant.

A message for the men reading this issue: when you get this book for your wife or girlfriend or daughter, quickly read it yourself before you pass the book along. They deserve our knowledgeable support!

Bonus Features

I like what I call the bonus features in the book. Each chapter of Baty’s book ends with a personal safety checklist on the chapter’s subject. There is a resource guide at the end of the book withvaluable information that I’ve not seen collected in one place before.

The book has some illuminating statistics that help put personal safety risk into a proper perspective. According to the Department of Justice, at least 1 in 12 women will be stalked in their lives.1 The victims are usually between 19 and 39 years of age. Women who work in customer facing positions and who travel for business are in a job category with a higher likelihood of being attacked, harrased or stalked.

But most of all this book is about the many preventive things that women (and men) can do and should do to to assure personal safety in specific circumstances.

Following Up

You don’t have to be a security or safety director to take action. Most companies have at one time or another stated, “Our people are our most valuable asset.” Many companies havestrategic objectives that have to do with enhancing or enabling their personnel. And it is not just women personnel who need The Safety Chick’s book. Managers and supervisors with women personnel in at-risk job positions, including those who manage corporate travel, should also read it.

In addition, executives and managers with specific security responsibilities should also read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, who is regarded as our nation’s leading expert on the prediction and management of violence. In this book, de Becker debunks the myth that most violent acts are random and unpredictable and shows that they usually have discernible motives and are preceded by clear warning signs.

Back to Security Flowers

In article #21 of The Security Minute, “Businesses are Unprepared for Family Unpreparedness”, I wrote about the lack of family preparedness for emergencies and what to do about it. Violence agaisnt a family member is one type of emergency. I did not specifically mention it in the earlier issue because that issue was about preparing to respond to an emergency that has already happened or is happening. A separate issue (this one) was warranted on personal violence because itis a situation where preventive action is not only possible, it is strongly warranted.

If you have any hesitation about getting one or both of these books right away (Baty and de Becker), I’d like to politely suggest that is the very reason why you should take action now. Once educated more on the subject, as I recently have been, you will know without a doubt the importance of having that knowledge—for yourself, for the women you care about in your personal life and for the women you are responsible for on the job.

For some evidence that I am in good company in recommending Baty’s book, Gavin de Becker wrote the foreward to the book and stated in the last paragraph that he carries several copies of her book in his briefcase, so that he can hand them out as appropriate.

As for security flowers, once you read Baty’s book you will know if you need them!

Best regards,
Ray Bernard

1 Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, Stalking in America: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey (Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, 1996) 3

2 Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear (New York: Random House, 1997) preface page

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