September is National Campus Safety Month
September is National Campus Safety Month!
The beginning of cooler weather and a new academic year means that students across our area are heading off to college and university. Whether attending a small college or large university, located in a community close to home or far away, safety should be a priority and concern for college students and parents alike.
Prior to beginning the school year, parents and students should review campus safety policies, as well as the emergency protocol and notification processes of the campus. It is also important to know details such as where to go, who to call, and what to do in the event of an emergency on campus.
While many colleges have taken substantial steps to increase safety for their students, and have created detailed protocols for emergency response, the fact remains that crime still exists in the college population. One type of crime, sexual assault, is prevalent nationally for college age students. Women in particular are at an increased risk for this type of victimization. Here are a few startling national statistics:
- It is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20% and 25% over the course of a college career.
- Among college women, 9 in 10 victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender.
- Almost 12.8% of completed rapes, 35% of attempted rapes, and 22.9% of threatened rapes happened during a date.
- It is estimated that for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.
- Off-campus sexual victimization is much more common among college women than on-campus victimization. Of victims of completed rape 33.7% were victimized on campus and 66.3% off campus.
- Less than 5% of completed or attempted rapes against college women were reported to law enforcement. However, in 2/3 of the incidents the victim did tell another person, usually a friend, not family or school officials.
*Information taken from nsvrc.org.
With these types of staggering statistics, college students, parents, campuses, and communities need to take part in increasing safety on campus. Consider some of the following tips:
- Know your resources. Who should you contact if you or a friend needs help? Where should you go? Locate resources such as the campus health center, campus police station, and a local sexual assault service provider. Notice where emergency phones are located on campus, and program the campus security number into your cell phone for easy access.
- Stay alert. When you’re moving around on campus or in the surrounding neighborhood, be aware of your surroundings. Consider inviting a friend to join you or asking campus security for an escort. If you’re alone, only use headphones in one ear to stay aware of your surroundings.
- Be careful about posting your location. Many social media sites, like Facebook and Foursquare, use geolocation to publicly share your location. Consider disabling this function and reviewing other social media settings.
- Make others earn your trust. A college environment can foster a false sense of security. They may feel like fast friends, but give people time earn your trust before relying on them.
- Think about Plan B. Spend some time thinking about back-up plans for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have a few numbers memorized to get help? Do you have emergency cash in case you can’t use a credit card? Do you have the address to your dorm or college memorized? If you drive, is there a spare key hidden, gas in your car, and a set of jumper cables?
- Be secure. Lock your door and windows when you’re asleep and when you leave the room. If people constantly prop open the main door to the dorm or apartment, tell security or a trusted authority figure.
*Information taken from rainn.org.
By working together we can each do our part to make college campuses a safer place for the academic year ahead. For more information on safety in campus social settings, as well as additional resources for students, please visit: rainn.org.
If you or someone you know has safety concerns or has been victimized by a crime, contact campus or local police, or Someplace Safe at 1-800-974-3359.
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