Fear can promote safety

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By Jennifer McGregor

Chances are the more you know the safer you’ll be, but it’s hard to tell when knowing too much can backfire.

“There is a fine line between making people aware and scaring them,” says Janet Mays, the director of campus equity harassment and safety services.  “We walk that line.”

Fear can be contagious and sometimes immobilizing.  It has been known to cause students to be distracted, and in extreme cases, keep them from attending school, especially if their classes run late and they need to cross campus alone.  Paranoia can also ran rampant as news of unsafe occurrences spread.

But despite possible effects, Jean Golden, a sociology professor and former head of campus safety and security, says students need to know if they might be in danger.

“Absolutely these things should be given the front page,” Golden says.  “People should see it and they should see it because they have the right to know where there is danger.”

Only if fear translates into awareness can students take action towards prevention.

“The fear builds up,” says Jennifer Osborne, a second-year social work student, who volunteers in Ryerson’s Women’s Centre.  “A lot of females may feel, ‘I am strong, I am confident,’ but — come on — when are you really prepared?”

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