In the U.S., the criminal activity of child trafficking is an ongoing law enforcement vexation. Some child predators have been so bold as to commit kidnappings in broad daylight, even in front of their parents. One child safety advocate has repeatedly exhibited just how easy it is to kidnap a child (and it is even easier to do when the parents have their vision transfixed on their smart-phones):
Naturally, concerned parents have taken up defense against such predators by keeping close watch over their children and organizing neighborhood communities that are vigilant of suspicious activity. These are good measures to take in response to child trafficking. But what might yield additional security benefit for families is to mitigate informational indicators that cue predators in on potential targets.
What is an indicator? Any bit of information which when collected allows for inference on the nature or disposition of a given target. For example, one indicator a child predator might look for, to identify homes housing children, would be the presence of toys in the yard. By learning to mitigate these indicators, you increase your security.
Notice that this concept of indicators need not only apply to deterring child predators. By coming to view the world through a lens that colors everything as information which may be collected, manipulated, and exploited, one can begin to identify what potential inferences any type of threat may make about you.
Ask yourself, if someone were to ‘case’ your home, what informational indicators might you have left around the exterior that could work against your security (be the threat a burglar, armed invader, or nosy neighbor)? You may suffice an answer by taking a step outside and viewing your home while imitating malicious and/or investigative thought processes. Ask questions such as:
What do your lawn decorations say about you? Do you have flags? If so, of what? What do they imply to others? My wife and I often play a game of estimating the political bent of a given home’s occupants just by these sorts of things as we casually stroll in different neighborhoods. Putting the occupants of a home on the left-right spectrum is as easy as viewing a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag or colorful “Obama” bumper-sticker. Understand the advantage and disadvantage of flaunting such things. Once you do, the greatest deceptions/ false facades can be devised to your benefit (i.e. Don’t own a gun but want extra security? Post up a bluff, “Beware Trespassers Will Be Shot”. But hope hardened felons looking for guns don’t come your way).
Is your home well-maintained? Might one infer your socio-economic status by the site of it? Cracked side-walks, litter in the yard, peeling paint, and a rusty automobile give you a pretty good idea of the social status an occupant holds. From a criminal perspective, high-dollar cars in a lot adjacent to a beautiful three-story mansion is an obvious indicator of wealth and hence a burglar’s potential target.
If someone wanted to break-in, what are the obvious entry points? I have taken time walking the exterior of my home to identify the easiest ways in.
Do you want your home to stand out or blend in with the motifs of other homes? If so, it is important to start paying attention to the informational indicators of all neighboring homes to gain a base template.
Overall, it is important to recognize how we present ourselves to the world. Only by learning to view yourself through the eyes of others can you learn to truly deceive for your sake or that of your loved ones.
Truth is hidden by deception, and an apparent truth might conceal deceit.
This principle is extraordinarily useful…