Teenagers are synonyms with adventure. Safety is often used to describe living in Beijing. These two words are not to be taken lightly though especially when it comes to the expat community teenagers. Let’s put it this way: Beijing, like any other city in the world, has crime lurking in places that could potentially happen to anyone. Here are a few tips for teens in Beijing on how to keep themselves and their friends safe.
Alcohol, Bars and Sanlitun:
The issue of underage drinking is entirely up to each individual household customs but this maybe the number one issue with teenagers today, especially amongst middle and high school students from the expat community.
The novelty of going to Sanlitun Bar Street with friends may seem like the cool thing to do but it may not be such a good idea. Going to criminogenic areas such as Sanlitun is just courting trouble; we’ve heard about more than a handful of cases where either local or foreign people are assaulted and injured in these areas, especially late at night.
Alcohol and frustration are let out in these late nights and dark alleys, so despite how “mature” this little teenage “risk-taking” may make you seem, the lack of consideration for consequences that leads to endangering yourself and your peers is entirely not worth the deal. Avoid these areas as much as possible, particularly at night time.
Scratch that. Just avoid going out at all during night time.
Nighttime escapades? We don’t think so:
Past 8pm, grab your friends and cart yourselves right home on a taxi together. Nighttime is always a high time for conflict and crime, when frustrated people could blow off their steam at any moment and at anyone. Don’t take a taxi alone; don’t take this as a general statement about all taxis, but some can be quite sketchy and being alone in these taxis at night just bodes unwell. Especially do not take “black taxis”, so make sure the taxi’s car plate starts with “B” and the meter’s running.
Biking at night is another idea that you’ll have to slam down. We’ve heard of quite a few accounts of theft or assault related to riding a bike alone at night. Try to get home before the day darkens, but if you are unable to let your parents (or even a friend) know where you are and see if they can pick you up.
Buses and Subways & Beggars and Thieves:
Public transport is convenient and cheap. However, along with the “public” factor come the possible hazards of theft and pickpockets. The next time you take the subway or a bus, keep these few points in mind.
– When the bus driver or ticket seller suggests passengers to keep their belongings close, it usually means that they’ve spotted a pickpocket on the vehicle.
– Same goes for subways, but a little vaguer in this case since you can’t be sure which car the thief is in.
– Keep your bag tucked close and make sure you can see all zippers and openings.
– If you’re holding your phone in your hand on the subway, make sure you stay clear of the doors when the subway arrives at a stop. Some pickpockets make a grab for your phone right before the door closes, so that you have no chance of chasing after them.
– Beggars will walk through the subway cars, usually with a mike and amplifier, singing or explaining his or her tragic situation while displaying their injuries and disabilities. Some women will have babies in their arms, trying to seek compassion from the passengers. The hard truth is, they are usually under some sort of organization and more will come swarming towards you angrily trying to get more (usually on the streets instead of the subway). If you want to help them, give them non-refundable food rather than money. Usually it’s alright to just walk away.
Last tip: Always be prepared. Keep a phone on you at all times, along with the emergency numbers in Beijing, those of your embassy, your parents, and Chinese speaking friends.
Emergency Numbers in Beijing:
Traffic Accidents: 122
Traffic Accidents: 122
Like the Chinese saying “不怕一万就怕万一” goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so let’s be responsible young people and avoid trouble and danger!
Photo courtesy of Dror Poleg of Flickr and Fotopedia.com
Freda Zhao is a beijingkids intern (of the month) currently studying at the Western Academy of Beijing. She is one year from graduating high school. Outside of school work, she enjoys reading, painting, and mimicking cat sounds in her backyard (to draw strays to her house and feed them)