Violent crime is no trick of imagination
On May 12, a person used the Tipsline to anonymously chastise the Vail Daily for “letting Mr. Mathew Bayley (that would be me) spread his paranoid beliefs about crime through your newspaper.” Well, if I am paranoid then I am in great company. Aside from the Vail Daily, which feels my articles serve the greater good of the people who live and visit here, Aria Spa & Club, Vail Recreation District, Colorado Mountain College, Crime Stoppers, Tanny McGinnis, the Eagle County crime prevention officer, and hundreds of local residents who have taken my programs or signed up their children are paranoid, also.In reality, this person’s opinion would be laughable except there is nothing funny about someone so deeply in denial. They are a walking victim waiting to happen. And worse, God forbid they have children, setting their children up to be victims, too. The Tipster very much reminds me of a person I met who did not want their 7-year-old to learn to swim. Their reasoning: If their child did not know how to swim, they would not go near the water and never be in danger of drowning. I swear this is a true story.On the surface, what I do would seem pretty straightforward. I teach people how to safely negotiate the activities of their lives. Whether it be rock climbing, kayaking, skiing or snowboarding, a good instructor emphasizes safety by pointing out the potential dangers and teaches proactive measures to avoid them. Why is it paranoia to apply the same concepts to our daily lives? My best take is many people do not want to admit that violent crime happens everywhere because they cannot imagine they have the ability to do something about it. The most challenging part of a true self-protection program is finding the right mechanism to empower each person. You do not last 25 years in my business unless your programs are overwhelmingly successful. What I teach works, but each individual has to feel they have the ability to work it. I sympathize with people who fear being confronted with a violent crime. Who wouldn’t? The Tipster is just an extreme example of someone wrestling with the concept of personal empowerment. I was very touched by all the support I received after the Tipster’s attack, but I was not in the least bothered by it. You see, this type of reaction is just a day in the life of an empowerment, self-protection instructor. Bear in mind that I have instructed at least 600 self-protection programs over the last 25 years. These programs are never scheduled less than two months in advance, and many are scheduled as far ahead as a year. But it never fails that if one of my programs just happens to fall within a couple of weeks of a sensational violent crime, someone always accuses me of trying to profit on someone else’s tragedy. There you have it. When I am not being accused of paranoia, I am being branded an opportunist.Let me relate a couple of stories: On April 27, Crime Stoppers and the Eagle County Crime Prevention Office, through Tanny McGinnis, sponsored a sexual assault prevention program at Eagle Valley High School. It was widely advertised through the Eagle Valley School District, with prominent ads in the Vail Daily the week before. With all this publicity, only 14 people attended, and less than a week later a young woman was sexually assaulted near the high school. Two summers ago there was a rash of highly published children’s abductions and murders. Through Aria Club and Spa and Colorado Mountain College, I offered a child kidnap prevention program. Sixty children took part and another 30 observed, along with close to 100 parents. It was so successful we decided to make it an annual event. The next year, thankfully, there were very few attention-getting attacks on children, and guess what? Three children were signed up for the program.What conclusion can we draw from these events? People do not like thinking about violent crimes, especially sexually violent crimes, and people tend to pursue information that will increase their family’s safety only when we get scared or angry enough to do so. And, of course, there are some people who are so afraid of violent crime that they get angry when anyone brings up the subject. As I said earlier, I have been a self-protection, empowerment instructor for over 25 years, and I have learned to deal with this reality. Does violent crime exist in Vail and Eagle Valley? Yes. Is violent crime less prevalent here than in major cities? Generally speaking, yes. As the valley grows, will crime increase accordingly? Yes, it will. These are not my beliefs. These are the facts. The most important fact to get your head around is that being a victim of violent crime is one of the most preventable tragedies that can befall a family. The safety information is available, the self-protection techniques are time proven, and that is my job, teaching people how to keep themselves and their family safe. Master of the Martial Arts Mathew Bayley teaches martial arts and self-protection programs. He can be reached at 949-8121 or at vailacademyofmartialarts.com.
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