It's back-to-school season! Incoming freshmen are moving into their first college dorms, returning students are jumping back into the hustle and bustle of campus life, and seasoned professors are preparing their lecture plans for the semester. What could go wrong?
The unfortunate reality is that violent crime is prevalent across the nation and college campuses are no exception. Now, you may be thinking to yourself - “Oh, MY student will be fine!” And if that’s the case, that’s fantastic. However, a positive mindset shouldn’t be your only form of protection when going to or returning to a college campus.
1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while attending a higher learning institution. 54% of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 34, and more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur during the first semester of the school year (Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.).
With such frightening statistics, this joyful time of year can quickly turn into a nightmare. That is, for those unprepared. We’ve compiled a list of tips that may help keep you or a loved one safe for the duration of one's college career!
1) Stay alert! An acute awareness of one’s surroundings drastically decreases one’s vulnerability to potential threats. Avoid burying your nose in a cell phone, wearing headphones, and carrying more than manageable when walking through or around campus, especially if unaccompanied.
2) Trust your intuition! If a situation feels uncomfortable and your “spidey senses are tingling,” trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
3) Should you find yourself in danger, proven self-defense techniques can be life-saving. Whether your practice involves taking a self-defense training course, visiting a local dojo, or watching YouTube videos online, the ability to defend yourself amidst an attack may prove crucial to your survival one day. Self-defense tools, such as TASER devices, also serve as a formidable first line of defense and commonly defuse dangerous situations without the need for hand-to-hand combat.
4) Don’t forget your cell phone! This way, you can alert the proper authorities if a dangerous situation presents itself. You’ll also want to update your emergency contacts so emergency responders and hospital staff can easily notify friends and family if needed.
5) If possible, refrain from walking around campus by yourself, especially at night. Travel with a group of friends, a significant other, a dog - whoever your preferred companion(s) may be! Strut with confidence and, as always, stay alert of your surroundings.
6) Take the extra couple seconds to lock your doors! Obviously, locking the front door is a standard precaution when leaving your household; however, be sure to lock up your back door, garage door, and windows as well!
7) Most all college campuses have a campus safety office. Stop by to educate yourself on the location of emergency phone stations, how to contact campus escort services, and common crimes in the area.
8) Maintain social media privacy! Don’t let the whole world know you’re home alone via Twitter. Additionally, don’t post pictures of yourself, especially with a geotag, until you’ve left that location. Essentially, don’t make yourself a target! That Insta post can wait.
9) As a college student, you will inevitably attend a college party at some point. Don’t venture out to one of these social gatherings by yourself! Keep a familiar face around who is willing to hold themself accountable for your safety. Plus, you can watch over them as well!
10) Carry a small amount of emergency money on your person. You’d hate to wind up in a danger without the necessary funds to escape the situation! That spare cash could pay for your Uber home, a payphone to contact your friends when your phone dies, or a much-needed Crunchwrap Supreme at the end of a long night.
Do you have any campus safety tips that we missed? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook (@tasercivilian) and be sure to let the students in your life know as well!