Mace, pepper spray, self-defense products

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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Mace, pepper spray, self-defense products
By Shauna (Shauna) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit

Hello everyone...I'm going to be a freshman in college very soon, and I am concerned about safety. I have a couple questions that I hope some parents can answer. :)

What are the legalities concerning pepper spray, etc.? I'd like to carry something like that, but I don't know what rules govern its use. Second, how would I go about purchasing something like that? Or would I be better off with something else?

Thanks for any help.


By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:03 pm: Edit

EVERY state has separate laws, some towns, too. Why not contact the college's public safety department and ask them?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:25 pm: Edit

Think about it. Why would you want to carry around something like that? It could very easily be used against you.

DO realize, too, that you can't carry anything like that on a plane.

I think you'd be far better off taking a course or workshop in self defense, including information about how to avoid dangerous sitautions.

For instance, I am fairly sure that most women who are raped are raped by someone they know. It's not as if when you're making out with someone, you'd have pepper spray at the ready just in case...

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Carry a whistle. I think most schools distribute them to freshmen.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:34 pm: Edit

I remember "rape whistles" being distributed during my freshman orientation (at JHU, which had crime issues at the time).

I think a selfdefense class is a GREAT idea, and I am seriously thinking about enrolling my D (who is all of 5 feet tall and about 88 lbs) and myself in one before she goes back to school.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 05:07 pm: Edit

All good advice.

But, WE are not experts. Campus police should be, or would know who is.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Massdad has a point. I would start by familiarizing myself with the crime reports the campus is required by federal law to keep. Also, they will be able to give you the info on campus self defense classes, the blue light station locations - if they have them, the parts of town that are safe and unsafe, and most importantly, the information on the campus provided escorts. Like Northstarmom pointed out, just carring something around isn't smart unless you know how to use it because it can be taken from you and used against you. The one thing I always hear policemen tell people is be aware of your surroundings at all times.

By Jenniferelaine (Jenniferelaine) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 06:52 pm: Edit

If I'm going out really late at night...I take a steakknife that I stole from Chilli's (they dont' give you free dessert on your birthday, so I helped myself.)

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 07:28 pm: Edit

I hope you're kidding.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 08:59 pm: Edit

Your best defense?

Be AWARE and CAREFUL. Are you from a rural area? I always look behind me when walking at night. I try not to ever be alone after dark. Don't go running or walking in isolated areas...or with a walkman on unless in a very populated area.

If you really want a protective device, there are mace rings that are sold..they look like regular rings...but contain mace and contain enough mace to render your opponent helpless for 45 minutes.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit

Take the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) course. It lasts between 12 and 16 hours, is given by trained police, and is quite comprehensive.

A few pointers from it:
*Never carry Mace or a gun or knife. It can be used against you. If you want to carry them, learn to use them correctly.
*Carry a pea-less whistle. Other ones are in danger of being overblown.
*Be aware of your surroundings. Listen to your intuition. The best thing you can do for yourself is to not make yourself a target.

Take the course, please. It's invaluable.

By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:03 am: Edit

I did get my daughter pepper spray that has thorough directions(and was told it's legal in all states although I think checking is good). I'm glad someone mentioned the plane. I think she should keep it in her purse and backpack so that if she is in a situation where she is alone at night for any reason she can have it. Tried a self defense course and have taken myself but I think you have to be a real expert with lots of training to really fight off someone stronger. The guy who sold it to me said his friend and him actually tried it (!!!!) and were writhing on the floor for 15 minutes. She'll probably never carry it -- but buying ir made me feel better! I think a course would be great -- hope her campus has one.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 03:25 am: Edit

Yeah, self defense classes really don't do much good. They may make you a little more confident, it's great exercise and a lot of fun-- but no good for actually fending off an attacker. I've been talking with my Mom about defending my dorm room. There are cheap motion detectors/alarms we found on the internet. She got me a maglite (heavy flashlight), but I want something light weight and pointy. I like the idea of doing serious damage.
You can use a lot of everyday dorm items in an emergency. Personal favorite is the letter opener, but Mom favors a can of aerosol hairspray (used like mace). Now we're arguing as to the effectiveness of the hairspray vs heavy duty mace.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:15 am: Edit

One thing to remember about pepper spray/mace is that there are so many environmental factors that could put it against you. Sometimes the attacker doesn't even have to take it away from you for it to be used against you--if the wind is blowing the wrong direction you could end up incapacitating yourself.

The right self defense class is invaluable. Classes like the one that Ariesathena mentioned above not only teach you about physical defense, but they also teach you how to avoid dangerous situations as well as how to "negotiate" with an attacker in some situations. I only took one class (in high school) but I can tell you that I learned things that I wish I'd known when I was attacked a few years before. Of course a self defense course is on my "to do" list, but this thread has reminded me that I need to get that checked off my list.

Usually your best defense is your brain. Avoiding situations and knowing what to say/do when something comes up are your best bet. As mentioned several times above, carrying a weapon is usually a bad idea because it can be used against you. Also, sometimes the criminal will either have enough adrenaline going or will be on drugs so the weapon doesn't even make much of a difference. This is something else that some self defense classes teach you.

By Ausmithe (Ausmithe) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:50 am: Edit

I have been considering getting my D a combination personal alarm. I have seen the pepper spray/ high decibel alarm and strobe light type. You can attach it to a belt loop etc. and just pull on it to remove a pin and activate it. They may be available without the pepper spray or you may be able to remove the pepper spray canister if you are concerned about the spray being used against you. Also I know in MA you have to register with the police dept. if you are going to carry pepper spray.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:19 pm: Edit

Some of these posts make it sound like you're defending the castle against hords of heathen pillagers. If you are in a dorm room with a card key system or a front desk, my advice is just to lock your door at night. Anglophile, the first time you forget to disarm the alarm and set it off creating a panicked stampede down the hall and stairs, I would imagine they would be telling you to dispose of it.

Ariesathena has such a good post. The police have statistics of horror stories where people had their own guns taken away from them and used on them. If you aren't absolutely sure that you could shoot or stab someone without hesitation, or even spray them with spray for that matter of fact, you are courting disaster.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:35 pm: Edit

Just how does anyone think that having pepper spray in one's purse or backpack is going to make anyone safer. Do you think that should a thug try to harm a student, the thug would wait for the student to remove the backpack and take out the pepper spray?

And why are so many people assuming that colleges are so much more dangerous than your own home territory? Do your kids normally go around carrying pepper spray for protection?

As for the idea of having pepper spray/alarms/strobe lights/pointy dangerous things in one's dorm rooms, is it normal where you live for people to need to have such things in their bedrooms for protection?

I am fairly sure that most college students who are raped are raped by people they know and the rape occurs in some kind of dating or visiting situation. When I worked as a therapist and had patients, the majority of the women and men who had been rape victims whom I saw had been raped while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (Guys and parents of sons -- do note - -males, too, including muscular ones -- can be victimized by sexual assault!)

These victims had not been dragged off the street by some stranger. They had had substances slipped into their drinks, had gotten drunk and had passed out, had become so intoxicated/high that some unscrupulous person (or a person who was so drunk that they couldn't tell their partner was unwilling) had sex with them.

When I taught college, a female student was killed in her dorm room. What happened? Another student -- a family friend with such a good reputation that her parents had asked him to look after her -- had apparently an unrequited crush on her and while visiting her, he stabbed her to death.

He had visited her dorm room many times, and had a reputation as being a nice guy. I doubt that pepper spray/pointy objects, a door alarm, etc. would have helped since it seems that she willingly opened her door to him. Most people are not going to arm themselves when a friend is visiting.

If parents want to help safeguard their college kids, and college students want to stay safe, it would be good if students learned some basic measures to avoid danger. This includes not getting drunk, not accepting drinks from other people, not drinking out of a common punch bowl, and keeping control of one's own drink all of the time.

It's also wise to use the campus' security system when walking around at night and to avoid taking shortcuts through things like alleys. It's also wise to avoid leaving one's car in spots in parking garages that are likely to be isolated if one has to return at night to get the car. It's worth it to take the extra time to move one's car to be by the entrance of the parking garage instead of leaving it in a high spot that likely will be isolated if one has to return late.

Another wise thing to know is that if one is in a situation a starts getting afraid, trust your instincts. Cross the street. Leave the scene. Don't worry about hurting the other person's feelings. Lots of times people who end up getting hurt had ignored their own feelings of apprehension.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:54 pm: Edit

Excellent post Northstar mom
My daughter took a Model Mugging style self defense class as part of her PE requirement. I suggest everyone take self defense, a good part of protection is being alert and aware not paranoid.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 04:53 pm: Edit

Great post Northstar~! I have a son leaving for school in two weeks. I have harped on my freshman in HS daughter to not leave her drink and not drink from a punch bowl, etc. I haven't been so vocal about it with my son. I will be after reading your post. Thank you.

By Ausmithe (Ausmithe) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:43 pm: Edit

You made a lot of good points, howevever you wrote

"And why are so many people assuming that colleges are so much more dangerous than your own home territory? Do your kids normally go around carrying pepper spray for protection?

When your S or D has usually been at home studying or driving to activities in nearby suburban areas it is a lot different than having to walk or take public transportation in urban areas. I have told her to make use of the shuttle or escort services if she will be out late but there have been attacks at her campus during the day too so I am still concerned.

By Ericlu87 (Ericlu87) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

carry a gun and learn how to use it

By Arthurd (Arthurd) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 01:12 am: Edit

We are talking about college here... not Iraq?

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 03:30 am: Edit

LOL Yay Ericlu87! As for college not being more dangerous than your'm not buying that. Weirdos are attracted to college campuses; the kids are young and careless. Yes, I think a lot of dangers can be easily avoided, but then some dangers break into dorm rooms. I like the idea of being prepared. And Alongfortheride-- you may be right about that alarm LOL! Maybe I could fill a small hairspray bottle with pepper spray and keep it by my bed. Then, I'd have a weapon in case of an intruder, and I'd know if my roommie was using my stuff!

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

Poor roomie!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

I agree that large cities offer more dangers than do most suburban or rural areas. However, I don't think that carrying pepper spray is going to help. I truly think that doing that would just give a false sense of security and also would increase the student's danger because the spray could be used against her.

I throughly agree that students should use escort services, etc., take self defense courses (which, incidentally, many colleges offer as part of freshmen orientation) and read about general safety rules.

Even in urban areas, lots of people who are attacked are doing something stupid. This includes doing things like walking down the street drunk or walking straight into danger.

For instance, (and this should be obvious), if one sees a street fight or hears gunfire or sees a cluster of thuggy guys standing on a corner, don't keep walking. Find a new route.

As the saying goes, "If you see crazy coming, cross the street!"

And walk briskly and confidently. Nothing attracts unscruplous people more than a person who walks with their head down, shoulders hunched and an attitude that says, "kick me."

Incidentally, I grew up in a very safe suburban/rural area, and went to college in a big city. I learned street smarts very quickly! No choice.

One thing for parents to keep in mind -- it's far easier for kids to learn street smarts in college (because the college tells one certain things) than to wait to go to the big city after college.

When people relocate into a big city, companies don't give employees the kind of training and assistance that colleges give their students. Other employees also won't pass along tips the way students help each other. Adults are somehow expected to know how to stay safe in the big city.

One last tip: Textbooks = money. She should never leave her backpack/textbooks unattended. People (even fellow college students) will steal them and sell them for money. This comes as a big surprise to many students because in general, books are the last thing that anyone will steal.

By 1212 (1212) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 04:16 pm: Edit

easy to assemble RPGs are the most efficient, IMO, and if u homemake them they are cost effective as well

seriously, i think you should relax, use your common sense, being alone at 2 in the morning wearing a short skirt will increase the probabilities of assault whether its the suburbs or an urban location. If you think logically you can always escape situations from handing in homework to eschewing the chances of rape/assault. Maybe its cause im a guy but i think the most dangerous weapon you can carry is your brain. Learn it and use it, avoid the problem if you are so scared. Pepper spray, mase, and even self defense courses are fruitless progenies of common sense.

By Takiusproteus (Takiusproteus) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 05:25 pm: Edit

One of my uncles had an interesting way to avoid getting his bike stolen (it was a very nice bike)

He made it look like crap.

Plastic bag on the seat, dirty newspapers wrapped around some parts, trash dumped into the basket. It looked like a serious hunk of junk that nobody would want.

So, following in this method, this is what to do: don't wear tight revealing clothes or short skirts - wear sweatshirts and cargo pants.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 06:46 pm: Edit

1212, so a girl in a short skirt is asking for it? I hope that's not what you meant. The two a.m. thing I agree with.

By Takiusproteus (Takiusproteus) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit

Wearing a short skirt is, in a way, asking for it - it's all about making yourself a target. Don't walk with lots of cash, don't show that you have a $100 bill when you open your wallet, don't wear a lot of gold...

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 07:26 pm: Edit

Wearing a short skirt is not "asking for" rape. That is a myth. I certainly hope that the male who made the short skirt comment doesn't think that women who dress with short skirts or low blouses are "asking for it."

Are men who run around half naked (as I often see around town when men are mowing the lawn or jogging) asking to be sexually assaulted?

Rapists are motivated by a desire to hurt and degrade their victims. Rape has little to do with sex. If you read about some of the disgusting things that rapists do with their victims, you'd realize that sex -- at least normal sex -- has little to do with the assault.

Also babies are raped. 80-year-old women are raped. Rape is typically related to opportunity, not to the victims' dress or appearance.

And finally, there are men who are turned on by various parts of the female anatomy. If a man is turned on by toes and decides to rape a sandal-wearing woman is his behavior excuseable? What about a person who is from a country in which the women cover themselves from head to toe. If he finds the typical dress of American women to be provocative, can he be forgiven for running around raping women?

By Gracious95 (Gracious95) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 07:41 pm: Edit

"He made it look like crap.

Plastic bag on the seat, dirty newspapers wrapped around some parts, trash dumped into the basket. It looked like a serious hunk of junk that nobody would want."

Steal it and sell it for parts. It was a cheap bike anyway, not like it would be any type of loss....

"don't wear tight revealing clothes or short skirts - wear sweatshirts and cargo pants."

And I always thought rape was a power crime!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

Your thoughts about rape indiacate a lack of sensitivity about what rape is.

In addition, your comments leave me concerned about what you may think is appropriate behavior around a woman who is wearing clothes that you think are too revealing.

All sorts of women are raped -- from women who many would regard as very homely to nuns to virgins to elderly and disabled women. In fact, I recently read about a serial killer/rapist who was turned on by virgins and looked for girls who seemed to be virginal. I heard of a hospital orderly who raped women who had just come out of surgery.

Rape is about power, narcissism and other factors. It is not due to men being so turned on by women's dress that they can't control themselves. If a man did have that problem, he would not be normal.

All of us see lots of desireable things as we go through our daily lives. That doesn't mean we get to steal those things.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 09:10 pm: Edit

Thank you, NorthStarMom. Great post.

By Takiusproteus (Takiusproteus) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 09:23 pm: Edit

I really don't know anything about rape, but obviously I'm wrong about assuming it's about sex. Anyway, I just brought up the example of the trashed-up bike to apply to any kind of crime. Don't look like a target. A friend of mine was mugged because someone caught sight of him having a bunch of bills when he was paying for food at a store. *shrug* Alright. I made the sweatpants comment for fluidity with the previous post. No need to lecture at me.

By Vancat (Vancat) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit

The best prevention against rape is COMMON SENSE. Don't walk alone at night, always stick with friends. if you feel threatened, run or scream or do anything to attract attention.

If you are going to buy mace, it should only be used as a weapon of last resort.

After you graduate college and your still scared, ever thinking about applying for CCL?

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