According to a story in last week’s Chicago Tribune, the answer is a definite yes!
A 17-year-old boy was shot in the back this afternoon after encountering a stare-down with three men getting off a South Side bus, Chicago police said.
The article goes on to describe the young man’s report to the police. Officers in the South Chicago police district said the teen was walking on the sidewalk when he exchanged glances with three men getting off a passing bus, police said.
The teen didn’t know the men, but because he was suspicious of them based on their demeanor, he backed away from the men and began running when he was hit by a gunshot in the lower back, police said.
Exchanging glances is a far cry from a stare-down, so which was it? This is pretty important because in many personal safety seminars conducted by police departments they make a point of telling you to make eye contact.
The reason for this is because human predators are very similar to their animal counter parts; they want to have the advantage of surprise on their side. If you make it clear by making eye contact, that they have been spotted, they are much less likely to follow through with their attack. It also sends the message that you can identify them.
Some teens who have participated in these types of safety seminars, will tell you that making eye contact can be a very bad thing if the gaze is held. It may be interpreted as a challenge and situations like the one described in the article may occur.
What should you do?
1) When walking down the street you should be scanning ahead for potentially dangerous people or places.
2) Many law enforcement officials suggest making eye contact for the reasons stated above. This is the surest way to let potential predators know they have been spotted.
3) Once you make eye contact do not look down and away. If it is a predator they will take this as a sign of submission and will probably attack if the situation allows it.
4) After making eye contact soften your gaze and look through the person, or at an object behind them, but keep them in your peripheral vision.
5) If you don’t want to take the chance that you may look away and signal submission or fear that they may use it to approach you there is another option. Look at their nose, chin or chest. This will give them the impression that they have been spotted, but without making direct eye contact.
You should practice using these various methods until you find the one that works best for you.
The most important thing is to keep your head up and stay aware of who is nearby. If you feel threatened move away from them. Cross the street if necessary.
If your think something is wrong it probably is. Awareness is the key to your safety. Stay alert and you will stay safe.
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