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Advice about Neighborhood Crime
There's been a rash of armed robberies in our beat lately. As I read the updates from our neighborhood officer, I grow increasingly more afraid. People are being held at gunpoint at times of the evening that I'm often out too -- between 7:00 and 9:00pm. I find myself wondering if I want to live here and raise my children in a place where I have to worry in front of my own house. And now that it gets dark early, I find myself feeling vulnerable when I simply walk from a restaurant to my car or simply into my house. Are other people having the same thoughts and fears? How do you handle it? Hate feeling like a prisoner of fear
1) get off the neighborhood dist lists - most of them are just crime update lists. Now you know it exists do you really need the details of each one? Imagine if you got an email each day about every person killed in a car crash in the US. We all know people die in cars - we just don't dwell on it. Same with crime.
2) I think it is just the price of living in these neighborhoods. It may or may not be worth it to you. I used to live in Los Gatos and Palo Alto. Very nice safe places. Very middle class, very white. Very soccer mom-ish. I also know I would hate being a mom in those places as I would not have fit into their culture. So these are all things to weigh we you consider different neighborhoods.
3) I am trying to just be better prepared when I go out. More aware of my surroundings (not wandering around on the phone), I bike rather than walk as I feel safer when I'm moving faster. And bottom line if I get mugged (and now realize that its a real possibility) just be ready to handover my stuff (in fact I have deliberately made sure that I have a little cash on me - don't want to piss them off). It is rare for things to go badly when you just hand over your stuff. Easy for me to say now and I might think differently if I did get mugged but I also recognize that I love these neighborhoods -I way prefer the people I meet here to the ones I've met in safer places.
But it certainly has crossed my mind - why do I live in such a crime ridden place (particularly all the attention recently to gun-point muggins) and for me the scales is still weigh in favor of staying. So you probably need to figure out which way your scale is titled. Good luck - it's definitely a tough one.
I recommend if you are finding yourself fearful, that you take a self defense - awareness class, like those offered through kidpower/teenpower/fullpower. See this website: http://www.kidpower.org/who-we-serve/adults.html There classess are not full of scariness, but are empowering and very informative. There are other ''model mugging'' type classes around, too that may be just as good. Also, if you want exercise when it is dusk, buddy up with a friend or family member.
And follow the polic departments advice about not talking on cell phones, or texting, or have earbuds in while walking around at dusk or night. That could make for an easy target. Hope it gets better soon for you. Anon
Secondly, I have lived in downtown Emeryville and now work in the Iron Triangle in Richmond. During the daylight hours when I am out walking around I make a point to make eye contact with other walkers, smile, say Good Morning as I walk by. I have not had anyone respond adversely and most people return the ''hi.'' It helps to be known and also to know who belongs in your neighborhood. After dark, I try to always walk with other people, even if I just catch up with some strangers walking the same way and make myself look like I am part of the group. I also carry pepper spray, in my hand, ready to go. I have only felt once that I might have to use it and fortunately the guys who were yelling stuff at me didn't cross the street. I also have all the local police depts. programmed into my cell and when I walk, I will have the local police number up on my screen so all I would have to do is push the button. Walk like you aren't afraid and know where you are going. Not Hiding in the House
We live in a ''transitional'' neighborhood where the property values are increasing quickly but where young families are not moving in, probably in large part because our local neighborhood school is not perceived to be very strong academically. Our children go to private school. They are 5 1/2 and 8 1/2. We live one block in from a busy street where there is quite a bit of illegal activity such as prostitution. There are a fair amount of sketchy people walking around, who to my adult eyes are looking for drugs, looking for employment (prostitution) or just plain mentally ill (i.e. the shirtless man zigzagging up sidewalk talking to himself). There are a lot of sirens, shouting at night, and we are vigilent about using our burglar alarm. There have been some recent armed robberies very close to our house, part of the recent uptick in crime all over Oakland. On the other hand, our neighbors are a wonderfully diverse group and we know many of them. My older child recently told me that she is afraid of living in Oakland, and that she thought it was scary. The honest truth is that I agree! But I told her that scary things can happen all over a city and that we keep safe by using our burglar alarm and looking out for people that we don't know.
This is my question: am I traumatizing my children by staying in a neighborhood that probably is dangerous at times, or does the good outweigh the bad? If we didn't have kids I would be just fine there because I loves cities and urban life. I know that this is a really personal decision, but I wanted to know the thoughts of other parents who have thought about this issue. anonymous please!
Long answer: You don't say what your race is, or the gender of your children. I would NEVER raise a boy child in Oakland, with the incidences of young boys just up and getting shot. If you CAN move, I'd do it. Although (for financial reasons) some children are forced to live in places that scare them, if the family can move at all, then for the period of time that the child is growing up, the family should move themselves to a safe area.
I know an amazingly large number of friends who used to raise their kids in the south of market area who gave up and moved to safe areas. Walking the baby next to people shooting up is WAY overrated. no longer a city mom
I understand that it is great to feel like a ''settler'' in a transitioning area and that you can gain great satisfaction in helping turn a neighborhood around and great financial rewards when you do sell your place. I never thought I'd sound this conservative, but I don't think any of that can make up for the fact that your child is afraid in her own home.
You don't say whether finances are an issue in your neighborhood choice, but maybe you can make some other sacrifices to live in a safer neighborhood.
We lived in Oakland for close to 20 years, 10 of them with our kids. When we moved to the burbs, it was like a weight was lifted off them, especially my oldest. It's been a few years now and he *still* thanks me for moving. And he had friends and seemed happy enough at our old place. I did not realize how much stress was floating in ether around him all the time: crime, traffic, noise, drugs, etc., and we lived in a decent neighborhood compared to the one you described.
Again, your child says she is afraid of where you live. You need to take that seriously. She is looking to you to protect her.
If you can afford to send two kids to private school, you can probably afford to buy a house in a more livable neighborhood. What benefits are you reaping from raising your family in such an environment, especially since you have a choice? It seems like you are living with all the negative aspects of the urban experience (crime and unsafe environment) and none of the positives. When I think of positive aspects of living in a city, I think of easy access to public transportation, ameneties such as shops, restaurants, parks within walking distance, theater, art galleries, public events, etc. Does this really exist for you?
My family and I enjoy all of the above said ameneties within walking distance of our home, our kids play outside on the sidewalk and neighbors look out for each other in our ethnically diverse community. We live in Alameda - still close to SF but we have sacrificed bragging rights to say ''we live in Berkeley'' or ''we live in Oakland'' - as if they are such big booming metropolises anyway. blah blah
Maybe you should consider your kids safety and well being and bite the bullet... move to a safer community even if it's a small town. I don't mean suburban subdivision hell - there are other options out there that can offer you genuine urban lifestyles, even if the population is under 100,000. You can always move back when they have grown. still a city girl at heart.
I live in Oakland and I love my neighbors and my neighborhood. However, we have crime that no one feels good about. It goes beyond the occasional car break-in-- we've had lots of those. In a 6-block radius, we've had several hold-ups with guns and getaway cars (at all times of day and night), a drive-by shooting, and many home robberies. We have formed a Neighborhood Watch group and a yahoo group communicate regularly about crime and suspicious activities. We let each other know when we'll be out of town and look out for each other. We report everything to the police. However, the incidents continue, and most people are feeling scared. They are less likely to walk around the neighborhood, or work in the front yard, and many people with young kids are moving out. My question is: what have others done to address crime in their neighborhoods? What has been effective? We've tried to get organized, and everyone wants to Do Something, but no one really knows what to do. I welcome any and all suggestions Scared
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