By Anika Koruba (281)
The safety of anyone in Philadelphia is important. Certain parts of the city are more dangerous than others, so it is important to take precautions. Many of these dangers are discussed, such as robberies, shootings, and muggings. We often overlook the safety of minors in Philly. Those minors being female. Of course, the safety of any boy is just as important as my safety, (me being a 16-year-old girl) except for the fact that teenage boys aren’t the targets for the creeps that exist within this city. One of those “creeps” or to more specifically identify them: perpetrators, is a man named Steven Ditty.
This man was collectively identified by many young women who came into contact with him all over Center City Philadelphia. All of these young women, including myself, took the initiative to post security footage, pictures, and videos of him following other young women in the city on Instagram, to make sure this message was spread. He has masturbated publicly in front of many women in Rittenhouse, has harassed, followed, and sexually assaulted women as well. This is NOT okay. At the same time, we must understand that this is NOT an isolated incident. These things happen way too frequently, which is why they must be addressed.
As a Central student, taking the subway (or other forms of Public Transportation) to the city after school is all but too familiar, except for when you are alone. Instead of being surrounded by fellow students and friends- backpacks bumping into each other, laughing and screaming heard from cars down- you find yourself avoiding any eye contact with men. Men who continue to stare at you will try to move closer to you, talk to you, even follow you off of the subway. This is scary. This shouldn’t happen. I and any other teenage girl should be able to take the subway alone without fearing there’s a chance of never making it home. Except I cannot. And if you are a girl, you cannot imagine this either. Instead, you must be equipped to handle these types of situations.
- I advise you to stay in a group. This is most important. There is strength in numbers.
- I advise you to always have your phone charged with your location available to your parents. (Now doing that may not always be the most favorited option, but it is a necessary one.)
- I advise you to always carry keys and pepper spray. This is extreme, but as I said before and will say again, be prepared for the worst.
- I advise you to stay aware of your surroundings. Make sure the creepy man in the corner of the car stays where he’s sitting and doesn’t try to come closer to you. If he does get up, walk to another car. Sit near a woman.
- Never be afraid to tell a stranger if you feel unsafe. If someone is following you I need you to make sure there is a woman near you. When you identify that woman you must tell her what is going on and who is following you, walk with her and call your parents.
- I advise you to not blast music in your ears. Yes, we all love doing that, but when it may infringe on your safety it is a nono. It is easy for someone to sneak up on you if you don’t even hear them coming.
A fellow student of the Philadelphia School District, Isabella Mintz, a sophomore at Masterman high school, and her friend, a sophomore at Central had an encounter with Ditty. When they were walking outside Rittenhouse Park he approached them, began asking personal questions, gradually moving closer to them, etc. When neither of the girls had a reply for Ditty he began to bring up age, “Oh, come on, I’m not too much older than you two. The age difference isn’t that big.” After this occurred Mintz and her friend decided it would be best to walk away, but Ditty began to follow them. After more questions were asked and more were ignored, he finally gave up. This harassment was unwarranted and unwanted, yet was handled by the girls correctly. I asked Isabella to advise girls who have been or may be in similar situations. “I think the best thing you can do is to be non confrontational. Just do not talk to them, do not look them in the eye. Pretend they’re not there and keep walking.” In their case, Ditty left them alone. Though this isn’t what happens in every situation, it’s always good to keep yourself guarded, and make yourself seem like you’re not worth “the chase.” Because of experiences of my own, I can also say that responding to or even looking at these predators will give them the incentive to continue harassing you. Even though we should not have to worry about these things when simply walking through the city, I want you to remember to stay attentive and prepared.