How to protect yourself from harmful situations

Jacob Angelovski

Ellie Vasbinder, Assistant Print Editor in Chief

The sound of the keys jingling in her hand is all that can be heard as a young woman exits her school’s campus one evening. She maintains a quick pace, not wanting to linger alone in the dark parking lot. However, before she knows it, hands grab her from behind and pull her backwards. She quickly reaches for the pepper spray attached to her key chain and pulls the release, driving her attacker back. In this instance, the small can of pepper spray made a crucial difference in protecting the young woman, proving that pepper spray is a valuable tool for students looking to defend themselves.

In 2018, instances of violent crimes including homicide, robbery and aggravated assault being perpetrated against individuals by a stranger reached a new high, increasing 11 percent nationwide from last year, according to the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association. Of those crimes, aggravated assault made up roughly 60 percent of violent acts leveled against a stranger.
With these crime rates trending upward, the need for self-protection is becoming increasingly necessary, especially in women and adolescents, who are most susceptible to being targeted, according to the National Institute of Justice. As such, there has been a spur in the number of individuals carrying pepper spray, with a survey conducted by the analytics company Gallup recording that, in 2017, 16 percent of Americans surveyed carry a capsule of pepper spray on them for means of self-protection, a two percent increase from 2016.

According to Home and Personal Safety Consultant Mathew Carey, pepper spray is the most effective tool for self-defense because of the product’s versatility and ease of use. The effectiveness of the product in proportion to its size is unmatched in comparison to other self-defense tools, firing its spray at a range of 15 feet, despite being small enough to fit on a key chain.
According to the Fenton High student handbook, students are not allowed to possess any type of weapon or munitions on campus for fear that the object will be used to threaten, harm or harass another person. In the list of dangerous weapons specified in the handbook, pepper spray is not explicitly stated as a dangerous weapon, but rather falls under the umbrella category of any object that could cause bodily harm to another individual.

Despite being categorized as a dangerous weapon, pepper spray has one distinction that makes a crucial difference in justifying its use on campus: it is non-lethal. Other weapons specified as “dangerous” in the handbook – guns, razors, daggers or explosives – have the potential, when used, to kill the individuals they’re leveled against. Pepper spray, however, can provide users with the ability to defend themselves effectively from any potential threat without the risk of a fatal situation.

The concerns surrounding students’ possession of pepper spray on campus is understandable, with many believing that students should not be armed in any capacity. However, with instances of violent crimes being so prevalent in American society, students having a means of self-defense is a necessity, and pepper spray provides individuals with the ability to protect themselves within reason. As such, students should be allowed to possess the device on campus in order to safeguard their well being.