Dear Straight Talk: The abduction and rape of Jaycee Dugard has me terrified when I drive home late after work. How I can feel safe? Even during broad daylight, how do you tell a rapist from a sweet person who needs help? My friends and I all have the creeps. ~ 17, Santa Rosa, CA Peter, 22, Monterey: Always err on the side of caution. Don’t help someone unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s safe. Stay aware of your surroundings, glance over your shoulder. Nicole, 20, Arcata: I always carry pepper spray on my keychain. It’s great for walking to your car. It’s simple to use and sprays about eight feet. Shelby, 17, Auburn: If you’re on back roads and a car approaches with flashing lights, drive to a public setting before pulling over. Molly, 17, Fair Oaks: Our media make the world seem much more vicious than it is. Much of your fear is irrational. Maureen, 17, Redding: Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be naive either. Scout your car before getting in, be hesitant if a big van is parked by it, don’t sit in your car with the doors unlocked, don’t roll down your windows for strangers. If attacked, deliver a strong groin kick or nose punch. Ashley, 22, Auburn: Attackers want easy targets, so kick, scream, and fight for your life! Trust a bad gut feeling. Dear Santa Rosa: Most abductions do take place in parking lots and I will repeat the panel’s excellent prevention advice: Be aware of your surroundings, carry pepper spray or Mace, walk escorted to your car, scout it before getting in, don’t linger in a parked car, don’t pull over for flashing lights unless in a public setting, if someone needs help, keep distance and call 911 for them. If you get attacked anyway? Then, Ashley is right. You must “kick, scream and fight for your life.” My martial arts instructor, Professor Dan Lovas of Auburn Martial Arts Center, says, “There’s only one thing you need to remember and that’s CAUSE PAIN.” Abductors do not want hassle. Simple actions that will cause pain even by small, untrained persons: groin strikes, side-kicking the knee, punching the nose, spear-handing the throat or eyes, prying apart a single finger and snapping it backwards, titty-twisting the inner thigh or just below the armpit, elbowing anywhere, hitting with a hard object. If they have a gun? According to Professor Lovas, most abductors won’t fire it. It is a prop to take you somewhere private without struggle. So, always run. If they’re holding you, cause pain, then run. In the almost non-existent scenario that they do shoot, Lovas says that 70 percent of handgun experts miss a moving close-range target. Of the 30 percent that hit it, only 5 percent are fatal shots. Ignore the gun and your survival is 95 percent. Obey the gun, it’s almost zero. A knife? Same thing. Run. Almost never will an abductor throw it at you, says Lovas. If you are trapped or held, he says, “Treat the knife like the head of a venomous snake, reaching behind it to control the arm, while simultaneously causing pain elsewhere. Then run.” Sadly, most victims neither fight nor run. Lovas says they lack a mental construction for dealing with this kind of shock and they freeze. If you cannot mentally picture yourself causing pain in order to save your life, consider studying martial arts. Lovas began training in sixth grade, because at 65 pounds, he was bullied regularly. “It was interesting,” he said, “once I had the skills to defend myself, I stopped having to because the way I felt about myself showed on the outside and people stopped targeting me. The ultimate defense is to be a happy, strong, confident human being.” To ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit www.straighttalkforteens.com or write P.O. Box 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628.