Hurricane season is upon us, and while we are much better at predicting, tracking, and preparing for storms than we were a few decades ago, the aftermath of these natural disasters is unchanged—destruction, casualties, and profound disruption to our daily living. Time and again, however, research shows that people who believe themselves to be “prepared” for disasters often aren’t as prepared as they think. The same goes for our safety and security.
We often think we have taken enough precautions to thwart the criminals among us, but the daily crime logs tell a different story. Preventing the small disasters that don’t grab the national headlines— a burglary, an assault, the looting of a bank account— needs the same kind of education as the larger disasters looming on the evening news. We can prepare for these small disasters much the same way we prepare for the bigger ones when we nail plywood over our windows and sandbag levees.
This summer the Obama administration has launched United We Serve—an initiative to tap into the American attributes of neighborliness, giving, and volunteering. So far United We Serve has highlighted the topics of education, the environment, and the health of our citizens. This week (August 24-30) the United We Serve initiative is emphasizing safety and security. At the National Crime Prevention Council we emphasize safety and security every day though our support of Neighborhood Watch programs that engage citizens to do their part to make their communities safe, our children and youth safety resources that prepare families for the threats that face children as they grow from toddlers to teens to young adults, and our commitment to community-wide crime prevention, victim services, and other justice programs.
Go to NCPC’s website for information and resources to help you and your community become safer and more secure. Then, visit the United We Serve website to learn about safety and security volunteer opportunities in your community and to access user-friendly toolkits to help you start your own. Through United We Serve and NCPC, ordinary citizens can make extraordinary contributions to strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for those most in need and at risk. The United We Serve effort is dedicated to making service not just a “sometimes” thing but a way of life for every American. While there is no questioning our capacity to deliver a “pound” of response, isn’t it time for an “ounce” of preparation and prevention?