The recent mass rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her Richmond, CA, high school homecoming dance has sent us searching for an understanding of this brutal crime. The National Crime Prevention Council expresses its sympathy to the victim, her family, and their community.
The National Crime Prevention Council maintains that countless crimes each year could be prevented and avoided. The Richmond, CA, rape case speaks volumes to that belief. While struggling to make sense of the human motivation behind this victimization, we turn to two crime preventing strategies that, had they been applied, could have prevented or, at the very least, mitigated the crime that occurred on the grounds of the high school that Saturday night.
The first crime prevention strategy is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED.) CPTED principles are used to asses a physical site, plant, facility, business, home, neighborhood, or community to reduce or remove identifiable crime risks. That this assault occurred in an area of the campus that was under lighted, under patrolled, and out of view of those who might monitor the campus makes it a candidate for a CPTED assessment. These types of crimes are not as prevalent when crime prevention architecture with appropriate lighting and clear sightlines are designed into the campus plan.
The second strategy is embodied by Neighborhood Watch. Since 1972, Neighborhood Watch has encouraged citizens to organize themselves and work with law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities. At its most visible, Neighborhood Watch groups conduct regular patrols and enlist neighbors and businesses to be proactive in preventing crime. The most significant benefit of Neighborhood Watch is that it attunes citizens to be in a crime prevention mode, taking note of indicators or potential trouble spots in a neighborhood, before crime occurs. The Neighborhood Watch-type group in a community near the Richmond high school has stepped forward to assist with patrols of the high school campus during events in the future, such as the homecoming dance. The Neighborhood Watch group is to be congratulated for going above and beyond to help out in the future. High school administrations nationwide might do well to consider partnering with such a resource for their communities.
This horrific crime is destined to become a landmark case. Let’s hope it is also a landmark for communities, schools, leaders, and citizens for crime prevention and not crime lamenting.