What is Safety & Security?

Now that you have taken a moment to really think about your own personal definition of
safety and what security realistically looks like for you, let us compare your definitions to some
current universal and historical definitions of safety and security. Good old Merriam Webster
defines safety as “free from harm or risk, secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss.” Okay!
Well, that was general and unhelpful… let us look at another source.

Safeopedia, a leader in providing professionals with workplace safety resources and support much like OSHA, has a good definition. They define safety as; “Safety is a concept that
includes all measures and practices taken to preserve the life, health, and bodily integrity of individuals.” This definition of safety is fairly good even if it was originally directed toward workplace
safety. Some synonyms of safe include protected, healthy, certain, or secure. So, let us see if we
can define the word secure or security, since we all associate security with being safe.
Once again, we will reference one of the gold standards for providing definitions, Mr.
Webster. He defines security as “The quality or state of being secured: such as a freedom from
danger or freedom from fear or anxiety.” Perfect, that really helped me! How about you?
The truth is, after several hours and- we mean tons of hours- of researching for these answers, the fact is that it all comes down to relativity, situations, and one’s own personal prospective.
You can look at different resources, different demographics, or diverse cultures and you
will find lots of various answers. For example, obviously someone’s views can become quite different after going through a traumatic event than that of a person who has not. Those that have
unfortunately been attacked, suffered long term verbal or physical abuse, or have simply witnessed something traumatic happen to someone else, may be more cautious and have a heightened sense of situational awareness. They will be less trustful, may avoid personal contact or intimacy, and these individuals are experiencing some level of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or
PTSD, which we will discuss in more detail later in this course.
Sometimes though, someone’s safety and security definition can be influenced by much
lesser traumatic factors. Simply based off the general knowledge of living in the city compared
to an individual who grew up in the country for example, we can easily see how different their
experiences might be and how that might influence their outlook on safety and security. In the
city, your neighbor is directly beside you or right on top of you! So naturally, in the city, people
are more likely to lock their doors than those that live a half a mile or more from their neighbor.
The general feel of the openness of the country makes us feel more relaxed in comparison to the
hustle and bustle of city life. In the city, people are more likely to turn their security alarm on as
they leave their home or automobiles. In contrast, a farmer may be more prone to defend their
property and family via a rifle or shotgun, though the trend to carry a firearm is growing rapidly
everywhere. Do you have a gun or other weapons you carry that make you feel more secure?
Security can also be achieved through simply having a J O B or some $$$ sitting in the
bank for a rainy day. Those small life accomplishments can have deep impact in our daily lives,
providing peace of mind, confidence, and security. I mean, who does not feel more confident, or
walk with a pep in their step with a stack of extra cash in the bank? And, especially these days,
having a job is so empowering, especially for a person with a disability.
Here’s another perspective to consider: how about having a disability compared to those
without one? You have a unique angle on what safety is for you compared to those who do not
have a disability. For example, as blind individuals, something as simple as confirming your
Uber driver is for you, takes a few extra steps just to confirm that we are placing ourselves in
safe and secure places or areas.
People who grew up in or currently live-in poverty compared to those with more means
most definitely have a difference in their interpretations of safety & security. Just like our example above having the means to buy food, live in a decent neighborhood, purchase a home, or securing medical and life insurance can seem so basic, but is so important to someone who does
not have the financial resources. Crime in low-income neighborhoods is extremely high and psychiatrists have said for years that people with their backs to the wall will resort to crime, or even
violence to meet basic needs or to lash out over their perceived injustices.
Unfortunately, decades of racial and social injustices have led to different approaches to
safety & security when it comes to one’s ethnicity. African Americans clearly have concerns regarding interaction with police. This is evident through recent events that has fueled the social
unrest over the last few years. Others that have an Arab nationality still feel animosity and racial
discrimination regarding misdirected anger over the attacks of 9/11. So certainly, their guards are
always on high alert for potential violence or confrontations.
As has already been shown in this module, there are so many factors that influence our
personal view of safety & security. Sure, in a comprehensive Safety Education course such as
this, you automatically think about physical safety, but a deeper look at the subject will reveal
that there are factors of emotional, locational, situational, demographic, ethnicity, and many
other factors that go into each individual definition of safety & security. An individual’s experiences shape his or her definition of safety & security and that is exactly the way it should be!
That is why here at SEED, we acknowledge that safety & security is a personal perception and
must be viewed as such both on an individual level, as well as society. We must not only understand what makes us all feel warm and fuzzy when it comes to Safety & Security, but we also
need to understand that other people have their own definitions based on their own situations and
factors. Can we all get along? Nope, not a chance – not until we start listening, understanding,
and start acknowledging each other’s individual uniqueness!
All right, what makes Us Feel Unsafe? So, we have acknowledged that producing a definition of safety is all by someone’s personal perception. Now we need to talk about what makes
us feel unsafe. What are those things that make you uncomfortable? What are those things that
make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? In other words, what makes your Spidey senses
go off, screaming warning, warning, something is not right? Chances are you have lots of things.
This is especially the case when it comes to personal safety. For some, it is something as simple
as being around someone who is raising their voice in anger or frustration. For others, it is being
in unfamiliar places and that horrible feeling of being lost and isolated.
No matter your background, your demographics, or perspective on safety & security, we
can all agree that violence and abuse is a universal thing that makes us all uncomfortable and is
certainly not safe for anyone! So, let us take a moment to look at what is a violent crime and what
are the diverse types of abuse. This knowledge is essential in our study of Safety Education &