During a January meeting of the Ladies First club at Lakeside High School, Columbia County sheriff's Investigator Stephanie Carani and Capt. Brett Carani taught the teens skills to protect themselves.
The husband-and-wife team told the girls to rid themselves of the notion that assault and sex crimes won't reach them in Columbia County.
"I've got three rapes and four statutory rape cases on my desk right now," Investigator Carani said.
The Caranis focused on how to avoid trouble as much as on how to react when trouble occurs.
"Make yourself a hard target," Capt. Carani said.
Investigator Carani told the girls to embrace fear, as it can save their lives. Girls should never drop their eyes when walking and should always survey their surroundings, whether they are at the mall, in a parking lot or at school, according to the officers.
If a stranger knocks on the door, Capt. Carani said not to ignore the knocks, but never open the door. A teen at home alone wants potential thieves to know that someone is in the house and they should move on to an easier target. Also, avoid anyone trying to sell something, Capt. Carani said.
"If they don't have it at Wal-Mart, you don't need it anyway," he said.
Should a girl encounter someone trying to rob her, give the person what he or she is asking for, Investigator Carani said.
"I can guarantee that none of you have something in your purse you're willing to die for," she said.
If a gun is drawn, run for safety immediately, the officers advised. A moving target is more difficult to hit.
Mostly, use common sense and call the police.
"If it doesn't feel right, it's probably not," advised Capt. Carani.
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