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Staying safe

Hand turning a key in a door.

Children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crime than those without disabilities. If you have a disability, you can take steps to protect yourself.

Follow these tips to protect yourself from crime:

Always: arrow top

  • Stay alert and pay attention to who is around you.
  • Send a message that you are calm, confident, and know where you are going.
  • Know your limits so that you can stay away from places or situations that put you at risk.
  • Learn about the neighborhoods where you work and live. Find out where the police and fire stations, public telephones, and hospitals are.
  • Let your parents or another trusted adult know if anyone has touched your body in a way that feels wrong to you. Also tell them if someone does other things that make you feel uncomfortable, like pressuring you a lot to have sex.
  • Try not to keep the same patterns. By going the same way home from school every day, you may be more at risk for crime because someone can follow you.

In your home: arrow top

  • Make sure you have strong locks on all of your doors.
  • Make sure there are peepholes on both front and back doors at your eye level. They may need to be lower if you use a wheelchair.
  • Get to know your neighbors — they can look out for you.
  • If you have trouble speaking, have a friend record a message for you to use in case of emergency. The message should include your name, address, and type of disability or illness you have. Keep the tape recorder close to the phone.
  • Everyone is different, so ask the local police department to conduct a free home security survey to help you with your needs.
  • Even though being on the Internet may seem safe when you are in your own home, you still need to protect yourself online. Read more about safe Internet use.

When you go outside: arrow top

  • If you can, stay with a friend when you go out and about.
  • Stay on well-lit streets that have plenty of other people around. Avoid shortcuts through empty parking lots, areas with lots of trees, or alleys.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you will come back.
  • If you carry a purse, keep it close to your body. Put your wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked between you and the inside of the chair.
  • If you use a backpack, make sure it is zipped completely closed.
  • Always carry identification and your medical information with you in case of emergency.
  • Carry a cell phone with you.
  • Read more about staying safe when you’re out and about.

When you use public transportation: arrow top

The inside of a bus.

  • Use well-lit, busy stops and stay close to other passengers.
  • Be alert. Don’t fall asleep or daydream.
  • If someone bothers you, make a loud noise or say, "leave me alone" loudly. If that doesn’t work, hit the emergency signal on the bus or train.

Source: National Crime Prevention Council.

Being safe and healthy in relationships with friends, family, other adults in your life, and with the people you date is also important. For more information, see our teen’s guide to healthy relationships.


Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013