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Safety and wellbeing

 for your safety, do not walk in this area after dark

                                                                                   Photo: swilsonmc, Flickr

November 1st marked the official return to standard time following daylight saving time. Turning clocks back by one hour means that the sunrise and sunset will be one hour earlier, resulting in more light in the morning and less in the late afternoon/early evening. With shorter days, more outdoor activities take place in the dark.

About one third of Canadians reported feeling very safe walking alone after dark between 1993 and 2009. Feelings of being very unsafe dropped considerably during the 1990s.

Figure 1: Percentage of people who feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark

 Percentage of people who feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark

However, there are some important differences in feelings of safety among Canadians. On average, women report feeling less safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark than do men. This may be due to violence committed against women.

Figure 2: Percentage of men and women who feel “very safe” walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark

 Percentage of men and women who feel “very safe” walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark

Residents of five Canadian communities (including Guelph, Kingston, Victoria, Waterloo, and Wood Buffalo), indicated their perception of safety in their local neighbourhoods by reporting how safe they felt along a seven-point scale ranging from very safe to very unsafe walking alone after dark. Those living in Kingston, ON and Victoria, BC reported feeling the safest walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark.

Figure 3: Feelings of safety walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (Percent of residents)

 Feelings of safety walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (Percent of residents)

Consistent with the national trend, women felt less safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark than did men.  

Figure 4: Men and women from five cities who feel “very safe” walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (Percent of residents)

 Men and women from five cities who feel “very safe” walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark (Percent of residents)

What communities can do

Sometimes it is difficult to know what communities can do to improve feelings of safety for women when walking alone after dark. Some factors to consider include adequate infrastructure such as good lighting and closeness to public transportation, as well as the presence of other people nearby.

As an example of the importance of raising awareness regarding violence against women, UN Women offers an outline of facts and suggestions on taking action.

What steps can be taken in our communities to promote safety for all? Share your story with us @ciwnetwork or comment on our Facebook page.

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