Lets cover some principles before I wax conservative.
The Principle of Power
Some people have more power than others. Some people are only concerned about their own happiness (a logical conclusion from some bent philosophies, for more on why, read a fictional book entitled Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1)). These two principles mixed together would lead one to see what I see: that there are plenty of people who are powerful (be it politically or otherwise) who are only looking out for themselves.
The Government: Power that limits Power
One of the purposes of our government is to protect the weak from the strong. Thus, our government must be stronger than the strongest in order to fulfill it's purpose. Thus, our government must check itself in order to avoid it's own corruption. We have added layer upon layer of checks and balances in an attempt to prevent corruption. We have a justice system that applies a mysterious Least Plausible Rule of Justice. Thus, we find that criminals have many defenses, and that the Law finds itself powerless to bring justice to some who are very clever or somewhat lucky, merely to avoid the chance that the government will accidentally hurt someone good.
We are beginning to construct a scenario similar to the scenario of insurance. Low risk of failure. Inability to predict failure. Great cost of failure. The solution is a pool of people who all put forth some effort to create a safety net for the few that will encounter true disaster. Those who put forth no effort have no "insurance."
Conclusion: Confident Self Reliance
We live in a world that works based on power. We live in a world in which the government affords some protection for the people, but this protection is far from complete as it cannot differentiate well between those who follow the Law and those who follow their own whims. It does a good enough job that we feel relatively safe because, most of the time, most of us are relatively safe. However, individuals obviously have a hard to figuring out when they are no longer safe. The person walking down the street in a bad city, in a nation which highly respects the privacy of the wicked feels just as safe as a nobody walking down a dirt road in a very small town where everybody knows everybody. Women appear to be especially vulnerable. Thus, women must go to greater effort to ensure their safety.
My suggestion, one that I follow, is to learn self defense. The poor girl who was recently murdered was grabbed and probably threatened with a knife (by a man who was known to be a lawless, violent man). As recently as yesterday, someone tried to kidnap a different girl at knifepoint when she came out of a Walmart bathroom. The girl resisted and screamed and escaped. The 9-11 hijackers had box cutters and (possibly) pepper spray. Obviously, what you learn may not work if a man tries to shoot you with a pistol. However, if that happens, the last thing you'll be thinking is "Darn. Too bad I wasted all that time and money learning to defend myself against knives and such." Ladies, learn to defend yourselves. There are enough strong, selfish men in this world that I think it will be worth your time.
Going further. The Ounce of Prevention Rule
Much of the bite that the law possesses is not in prevention, it is in punishment. If you believe that punishment is a good preventative, and if you believe that we haven't prevented enough crime..don't we need harsher penalties? And if it is not a good preventative, don't we need to try to find one? I believe that a society of people, each trained to take care of themselves is a good solution. But what about the costs? Well, we already have a system in place that we spend tons of money on annually. Physical Education. If a kid had even just three years of proper martial arts training, he'd be safer for the rest of his life. Plus, the following rule may reduce or eliminate school bullying. If it can be shown that you have bullied someone else or if you have lied about someone else's bullying, you will never train with the group again, in any state. Come on. It's better than having a society full of people that once learned to play dodgeball and frisby football.
I may write more later...we'll see.