Parents of COLLEGE FRESHMAN : Lets have these uncomfortable conversations. Get it out in the open. Talk about this NOW and game plan to make sure your kid doesn’t become a statistic.
One of my frustrations after a lifetime of stories from being in the self defense industry is what incoming college advisors DON’T tell freshman, and in particular freshman girls, about the dangers lurking college campuses. The very bookstores that should sell pepper spray and personal alarms don’t, because college administrators don’t want to admit that college campuses are often plagued by bad people looking for vulnerable situations. At the risk of being accused of being dramatic by the people that haven’t heard the stories or seen the police reports we’ve seen from within the industry, we’re going to give you parents a list of ideas to prep your college freshman with as they head off to campus.
Sexual violence on campus is pervasive.
13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).2
Among graduate and professional students, 9.7% of females and 2.5% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.2
Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.2
5.8% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.2
Student or not, college-age adults are at high risk for sexual violence.
Male college-aged students (18-24) are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.1
Female college-aged students (18-24) are 20% less likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.1
Starting college is an exciting time filled with new experiences and opportunities. As a college freshman, it’s important to prioritize your safety on campus. By following some essential guidelines and adopting a proactive mindset, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable college experience. In this article, we will provide valuable tips on how to stay safe on campus.
I recently met with the administration of one of the larger Universities in the United States, specifically to talk about self defense for college students. They told me they would NOT introduce self defense products to their college bookstores, because it would create a perceptional issue for parents of incoming college freshman. There you have it. They’re not going to address a fundamental and easy way to keep kids safer on campus. It’s up to the students to arm themselves with knowledge and tools to stay safe on campus. Here are a eight things to think about as you pack up and head for college:
Familiarize Yourself with Campus Security: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the campus security resources and services available to you. Locate emergency call boxes, campus security offices, and learn how to contact campus security personnel in case of emergencies. Knowing the locations of these resources will provide you with peace of mind and quick access to help when needed. These need to be called out, because most incoming freshman have never considered this before.
Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings: Maintain a heightened sense of awareness whenever you are on campus. Avoid distractions like excessive phone use or wearing headphones that may compromise your ability to perceive potential dangers. Stay attentive and observe your surroundings, especially in secluded or dimly lit areas. Trust your instincts and leave any situation or place that feels unsafe. One of the benefits of carrying some type of self defense like an KinderGard alarm or pepper spray or a kubaton or what ever is the act of carrying something physically in hand is a reminder to you of the need for constant vigilance when you are alone on campus, day or night.
Travel in Groups: Whenever possible, travel in groups, especially during nighttime or in unfamiliar areas. There is safety in numbers, and sticking together with friends or classmates can deter potential threats. Use designated walkways and well-lit paths, and avoid taking shortcuts through isolated areas. We teach this to little kids and then sometimes we forget to teach this again to our incoming freshman. Safer in numbers.
Secure Your Belongings: Protect your personal belongings by keeping them secure at all times. Invest in a reliable lock for your dorm room or apartment, and always lock your doors and windows when leaving. Avoid leaving valuable items unattended in public areas or unsecured in your living space. Additionally, consider engraving your personal information on valuable items to deter theft and aid in their recovery if they go missing. Giver brand sells a vibration detection alarm you can install on a door with included adhesive for $15, perfect for dorms and apartments.
Utilize Campus Transportation and Safety Escorts: Many campuses offer transportation services or safety escorts for students, especially during late hours. Take advantage of these services when available, particularly if you feel uncomfortable walking alone at night. It’s better to prioritize your safety by using these resources rather than risking potential harm. Even if it feels like overkill, study these services ahead of time so you know what its available and how to use it. Safety doesn’t happen by accident.
Practice Responsible Drinking: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Understand and abide by the legal drinking age and avoid excessive consumption. Always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended. It’s important to be aware of your limits and watch out for your friends’ well-being. Consider utilizing designated driver services or alternative transportation options if you’ve consumed alcohol. Sorry parents, but better to talk about this out in the open than pretend like it’s not an issue and be sorry later that you didn’t coach the kids on expectations and reasonable actions to play the odds on better results. Have the uncomfortable conversations now.
Stay Connected and Communicate: Maintain open lines of communication with friends, family, and campus resources. Let trusted individuals know your whereabouts and schedule, especially if you are attending events off-campus. Utilize smartphone apps or safety features that allow you to share your location with selected contacts. This will ensure that someone is aware of your movements and can assist you if needed. We like the Life360 app.
Attend Safety Workshops and Programs: Participate in safety workshops, programs, or orientations organized by the campus security department. These events offer valuable information on personal safety, self-defense techniques, and campus-specific security protocols. By arming yourself with knowledge and skills, you can better protect yourself and others.
As a college freshman, your safety on campus should be a top priority. By staying alert, traveling in groups, securing your belongings, and utilizing campus resources, you can significantly reduce potential risks. Take responsibility for your personal safety, follow these essential tips, and encourage your peers to do the same. By adopting a proactive approach and being aware of your surroundings, you can create a safe and secure college experience that allows you to focus on your academic and personal growth. Don’t become a statistic.
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014).
David Cantor, Bonnie Fisher, Susan Chibnall, Reanna Townsend, et. al. Association of American Universities (AAU), Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (January 17, 2020). (“Victim services agency” is defined in this study as a “public or privately funded organization that provides victims with support and services to aid their recovery, offer protection, guide them through the criminal justice process, and assist with obtaining restitution.” RAINN presents this data for educational purposes only, and strongly recommends using the citations to review any and all sources for more information and detail.)
i. National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995-2013 (2015); ii. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014).
Campus Sexual Assault Study, 2007; Matthew Kimble, Andrada Neacsiu, et. Al, Risk of Unwanted Sex for College Women: Evidence for a Red Zone, Journal of American College Health (2008).
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Campus Law Enforcement, 2011-2012 (2015).
Understanding RAINN’s statistics
Sexual violence is notoriously difficult to measure, and there is no single source of data that provides a complete picture of the crime. On RAINN’s website, we have tried to select the most reliable source of statistics for each topic. The primary data source we use is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is an annual study conducted by the Justice Department. To conduct NCVS, researchers interview tens of thousands of Americans each year to learn about crimes that they’ve experienced. Based on those interviews, the study provides estimates of the total number of crimes, including those that were not reported to police. While NCVS has a number of limitations (most importantly, children under age 12 are not included), overall, it is the most reliable source of crime statistics in the U.S.
We have also relied on other Justice Department studies, as well as data from the Department of Health and Human Services and other government and academic sources. When assembling these statistics, we have generally retained the wording used by the authors. Statistics are presented for educational purposes only. Each statistic includes a footnote citation for the original source, where you can find information about the methodology and a definition of terms.