September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month
In 2008, National Campus Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM) was unanimously approved by Congress to encourage a public conversation on important topics in violence prevention at our nation’s colleges and universities. NCSAM, which is observed each September, comes at a time when thousands of students across the country are headed off to colleges and universities.No matter if the campus is located close to home or far away, safety should be a priority for students, faculty, parents, and communities alike.
Prior to the beginning of the school year, students should review campus safety policies, emergency protocol, and the emergency notification processes of the campus they are attending. Students should also make planning for personal safety an essential part of their everyday campus life. Taking basic safety precautions such as locking the front door of dorm rooms or apartments, programming campus police and emergency contacts into cell phones, and learning the layout of the campus are all essential safety measures.When navigating the campus on a day-to-day basis, planning travel routes, travelling in groups, and remaining distraction free (avoid using cell phones, devices, earbuds, etc.) can also help to keep you safer from harm or other potentially dangerous situations.
Socializing with peers is also a large part of the college and university experience. When socializing both on and off campus, taking safety precautions is of utmost importance. Planning for sober transportation, attending parties or activities with a trusted group of friends, remaining with trusted friends for the entirety of the event, and avoiding food/beverages in which you did not personally prepare, will all help to keep you safer. Remember to use your instincts and trust your “gut”.If something doesn’t look or feel right, it probably isn’t. You may also practice a “code word” or phrase with your trusted group of friends that may be used to indicate feelings of fear or apprehension when in a social setting.
Finally, students should be cautious about what they post online or on social media.Many apps post the location of the user and may provide useful information regarding your whereabouts to a potential stalker or other harmful individuals. Selfies and other photos that are posted on social media may also give away the location of the user and should only be posted with caution.
There are a variety of resources that are also available to campuses, to help them prepare for NCSAM, as well as implement safety procedures for students and faculty alike. The Clery Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to guiding higher education to implement effective campus safety measures, provides resources and learning opportunities each year during NCSAM. Each year, the Clery Center chooses a theme for NCSAM which will help spread awareness, inform students and residents of campus safety policies, and effect change. The theme of NCSAM this year is “What’s Your Message?”. The theme helps institutions of higher learning to explain the purpose for campus safety actions, helping to communicate the values of the campus with students and residents alike. Campus administrators may find more information at https://clerycenter.org/initiatives/ncsam/.
If you or someone you know has safety concerns or has been victimized by a crime, contact campus police, local law enforcement, or your local Someplace Safe office at 1-800-974-3359. For more information on Someplace Safe visit www.someplacesafe.info.
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