Going to college is a step most school graduates dream about. Independence, a new environment, and new acquaintances seem so exciting to reach. But the majority of young people usually forget about the security risks waiting for them around the campus corner. If you haven’t considered this part of your future college life, dive into the article because forewarned is forearmed.
Have You Heard of The Clery Act?
The major federal law that brings light to the college crime statistics is called The Clery Act. It was named after a young girl who suffered rape and murder on-campus in 1986 committed by a student of the same college. The main idea of the Act is to oblige higher educational institutions to prevent concealing violence cases, increase their awareness, and monitor the annual crime rate statistics.
Transparency of such information gives food for proper analyses and makes campus safety more real than it is now. The most recent statistics say that the general situation has been improving, but the figures can’t be fully trusted. First, colleges record only the cases they know about while a significant number of victims remain silent. Second, crime cases committed off-campus are not included while students do not spend all their time on the campus territory.
Despite the fact that the college crime rate is slowly going down, the on-campus sexual assault rates are breaking records with 1 in 5 women being exposed to sexual violence in college. In this regard, The Campus SaVE Act was added to the existing one, bringing extra attention to the harassment issue on-campus.
How To Make a Safe College Choice?
After reading the previous abstract you might think that all colleges are potentially dangerous and your dream campus life has become less bright. Yet, that’s not quite true. College life is full of risks indeed but it’s within your powers to minimize them by choosing a safe college environment.
Monitor The Crime Statistics
The top-3 sources you have to check before applying to college are the Annual Security Report, Local and National Sex Offender Registries, and FBI Uniform Crime Report. The ASR gives you separate college crime stats; Local and National Sex Offender Registries identify areas where sex offenders live; with FBI UCR you can check if the area you’re going to live abounds in criminal cases.
Visit College Websites
A college website page should contain information about the exercised safety measures, a list of resources for students and parents to stay aware of the risks, and a guide for those who were exposed to a crime of any kind.
Find your College in The Safety Ratings
College safety ratings are compiled annually on the basis of multiple factors. If you find your institution in the top-10, you may sleep tight, but if your choice shows up in the top-10 most dangerous places to study in the US - consider changing your mind.
Make a Test-Visit
They say it’s better once to see than a hundred times to hear. A test-visit to a college will be useful both for parents and students. Parents can assess the safety of the place with their own eyes before sending their kids to an unknown place. They are also able to talk to the Title IX officer, responsible for the college security on every level.
Check The Potential Risks
Even if the campus area is safe, students life extends way beyond its borders. It would be wise to check the surrounding territory for places that may bear risks. Disadvantaged areas, the abundance of homeless people, dimly light streets, or infamous nightclubs - try to avoid any of them.
How To Be Safe and Sound On-Campus?
Although college seems like a perfect place for having fun and tasting real life, that taste might be bitter if you don’t take off rose-coloured glasses of recklessness.
Know What You Eat and Drink
When at a party, avoid receiving food or beverages from strangers or people you hardly know. Certain kinds of tasteless drugs can be added there to cloud your mind and make you easy prey for rapists.
For the majority of young adults, the risk is an indispensable part of college life, especially at the beginning. But not all risks are worth taking. Drinking contests, law-breaking challenges are definitely the ones you need to participate.
Think of Self Defence in Advance
They say, if you want to be in peace, prepare for war. So why not think of a pepper spray or self-defence classes to feel safer? When you prepare for the worst in advance, you’re more likely to end up as a winner, not as a victim.
Trust Nobody But Yourself
If you happen to be at college without having at least one friend around, stick to no one during the first months. It’s not about being suspicious of everyone, it’s about taking time to know the people better.
Don’t Show Off
There will be people from various backgrounds on campus. To keep safe, you’d better not show off and become tidbit for crime inclined individuals. Try to find the golden mean and avoid being an object of jealousy.
Know The People Around
When off-campus, stick with the group people you know. Being a part of a group significantly decreases the chances of individual crime accidents. Don’t let a stranger separate you from the company.
Keep in Constant Touch
Moving away from parents doesn’t mean losing connection till the next time you’re at home. Parents and friends have to be informed about your plans for a day/week, about your problems and concerns.
Know Where to Ask For Help
Every college has security guards, Title IX officers and a number of so-called blue buttons installed around the campus. To feel safe, know where to go (or run) if you or your mates get into trouble.
Turn-on The Alert Mode
New surroundings require a certain period of adaptation. Staying alert 24/7 might be exhausting at times but attentiveness, intuition and logic have never been more useful than now.
Be The Help One Might Need
According to the statistics, up to 50% of college crimes could have been avoided if potential victims had shared their fears. If you see someone in need of a heart talk, don’t hesitate to initiate that talk.
Crime Victim Action Plan
If you or your friend ever happen to be a crime victim, it’s vital to know the steps towards safety and recovery.
- Dial 911. The police are the first instance you should turn to. They start the process of investigation and provide further legal support for the case.
- Seek medical attention. If you’ve been exposed to physical assault, the best thing to do is to call the ambulance or go to the closest hospital yourself.
- Call the family. Getting through all of this alone is no easy thing. Let anyone trusted know what happened and get the support you need.
- Consult a lawyer. Attorneys provide you with the full list of options you may undertake as a crime victim and bring some clarity to the case.
- Ask for a housing change. If you’re afraid that the criminal case may happen again or you’re uncomfortable with the surroundings, you can make a request for campus or college transition.
College Safety Apps To Install
Smartphones are always at hand, so why not ensure your security with a couple of life-saving apps?
Safe.Safe allows you to select a number of people who will be notified that something has happened to you as soon as you activate the in-app SOS button.
Noonlight. Noonlight has its own SOS operators who contact 911 and provide all the information about your recent location and personal information you leave in the app.
Scream Alarm!. The main purpose of scream Alarm is to make potential offenders puzzled and scared off by turning on an extra loud scream sound.
Silent Beacon. This app makes quick and quiet emergency texts and calls to 911 or any phone contacts, providing them with your coordinates.
Other Campus Security and Safety Resources
With college safety being under constant threat, there are a number of useful websites and services that can help you avoid unpleasant accidents.
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline - provides helpful advice and support to those exposed to assault.
Victimsofcrime.org - a multipurpose website with a hotline, attorney support and local post crime services.
VictimConnect - another national hotline for guiding crime victims through and out of the trouble.
Office for Victims of Crime - a resource that connects victims with services that provide support and assistance.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service - a website that stores campus safety-related information.
STEP UP! - encourages students to be considerate about other fellow students who might be in need of help.
Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline - one more hotline that offers on- and offline sessions between sexual assault victims and local social services.
Victim Support Services - an organization that provides full support from medical care to advocacy guidance.
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline - another free and efficient service for getting pre-and post-assault support.
Campus Safety Magazine - a web issue that touches upon the recent news and statistics on campus safety.
Gift from Within - a pioneer organization specialising in helping assault survivors.
PACT5 - a movement that aims to prevent cases of college sexual assault by creating short fact-based movies and spreading them across the country.
The Bottom Line
College years have all chances to become one of the brightest periods of your young adult life. But they have the same power to make your college memories bitter if you don’t take proper care of your safety before entering the institution and while enjoying the campus life.