Looking after your safety in the real world

Everyone grows up in a different real world – some in towns or cities, some in the countryside. What feels strange and uncomfortable to some girls is familiar and easy to others.

In your teenage years, you will start to explore further – travelling to new places, meeting new friends, trying new experiences. Your real world enlarges and you need to be ready for it.

If you can, build up your new experiences gradually, after discussion with your parents, carers and friends about what is safe and practical for you. Start perhaps by taking a short local bus journey or walking round your local town for an hour or two. This will help you get gradually used to taking responsibility for yourself and being aware of different people and places. When you feel confident enough, start to explore further or stay out longer.

Always prepare for new experiences so that you will feel as relaxed and confident as possible. The following tips should help:

Whenever you are out and about:

  • Keep alert and stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t get too absorbed staring at your phone or listening to music. Make sure you know where you are and who is around you.
  • Taking any alcohol or drugs will make you less able to look after yourself.
  • Always have an exit plan. Know how to get home or somewhere safe if things don’t go according to plan.

Travelling by public transport

  • Check timetables and maps carefully before you go. You can generally do this quite easily online.
  • Make sure in particular that you check return journeys and know when the last bus or train leaves.
  • Think what you will do if you miss the last bus or train. If there is nobody who you can ask for a lift, take money for a taxi and the name and number of a taxi firm you trust. Be careful about taxis and minicabs: you can find some useful advice under ‘Transport Safety’ on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website. 
  • If you are travelling alone, make sure someone knows your plans. If possible, arrange for a sensible friend or relation to be available by phone or text to help if you get stuck.

There is more advice on using different types of public transport on our travel pages.

Around towns and cities

  • Use main, busy, well-lit roads if possible; avoid isolated alleyways, subways or car parks, especially at night.
  • Walk facing oncoming traffic.
  • Be careful around cash-points and don’t count your money in the street.

At night

  • You will feel happier and safer in a group of friends rather than by yourself. Stay together and don’t leave anyone to find their own way home.
  • If your friends haven’t read this page and you find yourself left alone, take yourself somewhere safe and public; ring a relation or a friend you can trust, or a taxi to take you home. Do not accept lifts from strangers and, as mentioned above, be careful about taxis and minicabs.

Be sensible about people

  • Trust your instincts. Be polite but don’t feel you have to have a long conversation with strangers at the bus stop who make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Practise polite ways of ignoring strangers. Headphones generally work well (though keep alert and don’t get too immersed in your music).
  • Don’t accept offers of anything from people you don’t know – lifts, company, drink…
  • Don’t be pressured by people you do know into doing things you don’t want to. If you don’t want to stay out too late, or go to a particular place, or try alcohol or drugs – say so and have an exit plan.

Be sensible about possessions

  • Keep your bags done up and close to you.
  • Try to keep your purse or wallet in an inside pocket.
  • Don’t flaunt expensive possessions.

If things do go wrong

  • Dial 999 for a police emergency

Further reading

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust (a UK Charity) has a number of personal safety tips.

Your local police force may have content specific to your area.

 

You may also be interested in our pages on:

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Using different forms of transport in the UK
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Risky behaviour