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Sunday Mornings with Rania: What Kind of World is This?

Rania Mankarious
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Rania Mankarious

Rania Mankarious is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston(Photo: lawellphoto.com)

“What kind of world is this...?” That was a question being asked by a young female student as law enforcement escorted her and others out of their Southern California school last week. Moments before, a 16-year-old shooter (and fellow student) had pulled a handgun (.45-caliber semi-automatic pistol) from his backpack killing two and wounding others. While news of the shooting makes its way across the country, this young girl’s question: What kind of world is this? has struck a chord in me. 

What kind of world is this? What kind of world are we raising our children in? 

These are questions I ask myself often and one I wanted to raise to others before the hustle and bustle of the holidays swoops in. 

First, let’s not forget that we live in a wonderful world where the majority of people are kind, thoughtful, honest and contributing to the betterment of all. That said, our society has its challenges, and they affect all of us. So what are the biggest challenges, in my opinion? Here’s the top six: 

  • Mass shootings may happen. Don’t be paranoid but be prepared. Whether you are at the mall, a concert or school, a shooting can take place. There’s the discussion around stopping them (a longer conversation for a different day) and then there’s what we can do to survive them (my current focus). One, always be public safety minded. Look for entryways and exits wherever you are; be vigilant, notice your surroundings. The greatest tool you have for survival is the ability to not panic, to think clearly and find your safest hiding place or exit strategy. Don’t wait to think of those things during the chaos of a shooting. Additionally, it’s important to have these conversations with the students/kids in your life now. Do it in an age-appropriate manner but talk through the possibility, giving them tools to handle and live through it. Remember, always report if you suspect activity may be happening, especially at the schools. (Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tipline 713-222-TIPS/8477) 
  • Cyberstalking is very real. Most of us live our lives online. Be careful about sharing or oversharing especially during the holidays. Whether you’re at home, at a party, a concert at your child’s school, or traveling, you can post creatively while still posting defensively. Don’t share where your kids go to school unless your online contacts are truly only those you know well. Make sure your privacy settings are on and that you’re not sharing your location. Go through the apps your kids use - understand which share GPS locations and which do not. Talk about safe posting and safe sharing with those you love. Do an inventory of their social media and to see how much of their life you can determine just through their posts. 
  • Jugging is a real thing. Sadly, there are many instances in our area where people are followed after leaving a bank and robbed at their next destination or even shortly thereafter. Be careful when you go to and from a bank. Take out only the money you need and store it safety. If possible, don’t use cash. Remind youngsters who drive and shop that they too can be victims of this horrific crime. 
  • Burglaries of a business happen often. If you or your teen work at a retailer that does business in cash, be careful as the holidays approach. Ask that your child not work the night shifts alone, that they never close or open the store alone. Review the store’s security policies, ask if cameras are working and what their emergency protocols are; determine if security is needed and make a request for security to be hired. 
  • Scamming of the elderly is on the rise. It’s terribly sad but during the holidays, we see an uptick in scams aimed at the elderly. Everything from phishing emails to calls from the “IRS” to more, make sure you remind those who are elderly to NEVER give out any personal information over the phone. If there’s a dispute with regards to their accounts or anything else, have them take a name and number and have someone else handle the matter. 
  • Untreated mental health issues, especially around the holidays, is something we all need to consider. While the holidays are a wonderful time, they also trigger sadness and stress for many. Be careful of people’s rising emotions, especially when shopping, walking and even driving. Be kind to each other, pack your patience, don’t isolate those in your community who are suffering, lend a hand and take time to connect with organizations, doctors, psychologist, or treatment centers that can help.   

And most importantly, remember, while we must be mindful of the bad, we must never overlook the good. We live in a wonderful world and in a special community made up of people who help, support, and care for each other. We see that in the nonprofits with missions to serve, the volunteers with hands to help, the philanthropist with funds to make things happen, the leaders who show up rather than run out and in so many other ways. So many are constantly working to keep schools, our communities and our lives safe and thriving. By understanding the risks, we mitigate the threats.

What kind of world is this? It’s a complicated one but it’s one where, without a doubt, the good outweighs the bad. 

Read past Sunday Mornings with Rania posts here. Find more information on Crime Stoppers of Houston on their website or follow them on Facebook. Have topics in mind that you’d like Rania to write about? Comment below or email her at [email protected]. Rania is co-host of a weekly podcast which features interesting local and national guests who used their platforms for the good of the community. Connect with Rania on Instagram and Twitter

Editor's Note: Views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Buzz Magazines.

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