College Safety and Security 101-What Young Adults Should Know Before They Set Off for School

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College Safety and Security 101-What Young Adults Should Know Before They Set Off for School

College is often an exciting time in life for many young adults. From the education to new-found freedom, there’s a lot to look forward to. But college is not without its risks. With increasing reports of college protests, riots, rapes, and shootings, it’s important that every young adult educate themselves on college safety and security before setting off for school. 

In a study by the National Institute of Justice, women in college have the greatest risk of being sexually assaulted or raped. According to the study, over 350 women are raped each year at colleges with 10,000 or more female students. Many women who are sexually assaulted in college do not report the crime to the police. Some of the reasons for this include embarrassment, not understanding what qualifies as rape among the legal system, and knowing the man who assaulted her but not feeling he should be labeled as a rapist. In some cases, the female victim blames herself for the attack as a result of what she considers poor choices on her part.

The fact that some women blame themselves for their sexual assaults is tragic. It does not matter what choice a woman makes. If she does not consent to the sexual behavior, anything she is forced to do is a CRIME that deserves reporting.

Young adult men also have increased risks while attending college. In a New York Times news reports, Robert Champion, a student of Florida A&M University, was brutally beaten during a marching band hazing ritual, which involved allowing his fellow band members to repeatedly punch him as he made his way down the aisle of the band’s bus. After the student became unresponsive, he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Every young adult who sets off for college is at risk of being victimized. This is especially true for young adults with little life experience outside their family home. The following are some important safety and security tips that every college student should incorporate into their daily routine.

College Safety and Security Tips

Tip #1: Stay Vigilant

No matter where you are—on the college campus or in a parking lot at a nearby store—it is important to remain alert and aware of what’s going on around you at all times. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are safe and that nothing will ever happen to you. Crime is everywhere and the criminals who carry them out do not discriminate. Crimes don’t just happen to other people—they can also happen to you!

To reduce your risk of being victimized, do the following:

  • Always keep someone informed of where you are going, who you are meeting up with, and what time you plan to return. This is most important when meeting up with someone you don’t know very well and when you’re traveling outside of campus. If your plans change along the way, keep your safety contact person informed.
  • Be sure to add important emergency phone numbers to your phone. This includes the phone number to campus police and other local law enforcement agencies. The most important number to remember is 911.
  • Take a phone charger everywhere you go and keep your phone adequately charged throughout the day. If an emergency situation arises, this will ensure you have what you need to call for help.
  • Use the buddy system! This is especially important for women. It is better to travel as a group than to walk anywhere by yourself. 
  • Avoid taking shortcuts or walking among areas where there are very little people around, especially at night. The more people you have around the better.
  • If at anytime you notice a suspicious person, vehicle, or activity, be sure to report it. It is better to speak up and find out your assessment was wrong than to stay quiet and have your silence result in you or someone else getting hurt. 

Tip #2: Arm Yourself with a Self-Defense Device or Two

There are a number of affordable and convenient self-defense devices that can be very useful to college students during dangerous situations. Here are a few that security expert, Jordan Frankel, recommends.

  • Mace or Pepper Spray:  Be sure to look for a spray that can reach a distance of at least 9 feet. The farther the distance the better. 
  • Stun Gun: A stun gun can be very effective in warding off an attacker. Just be sure to check your state’s laws first, as some states require carriers of stun guns to take a safety course prior to buying one. A stun gun that emits at least 700,000 volts will be very effective in taking down an attacker. Rechargeable batteries are also important.
  • Self-Defense Class: A quality self-defense class taught by an experienced instructor can equip you with some life-saving skills and knowledge that can help you defend against an attacker and escape harm. Be sure the class is taught by someone who has experience in self-defense, such as a retired or active law enforcement officer, a military member, or another experienced professional in the field. 

Tip #3: Make Sure Your Residence is Secured

No matter if you live in a college dorm room or share an off-campus apartment or house with fellow students, it is imperative that you ensure your residence is property secured. To prevent a break-in, you must equip your residence with devices that can both alert you and prevent an intruder from breaking in. The following are some recommendations: 

  • Alarm System: Having an alarm is better than no alarm. Though an alarm cannot prevent an intruder from entering your residence, it can alert you of a security breach and give you the time you need to call 911 and seek safety. There are a number of affordable alarm systems on the market that offer a range of features, including security cameras that allow you to be alerted the moment someone approaches your residence. Be sure your alarm system has an annoying loud siren. Other important features include a panic button, motion detection, and glass breakage sensors for windows. 
  • Security Door Brace: A security door brace is a small yet highly reliable device that is specifically designed to prevent your front door from being busted down by an intruder. It can also be used on bedroom doors that swing inward. Standard door locks and frames can be easily overcome with a few hefty kicks or body slams. With a security door brace in place, you can trust that your door will hold up to over 1700 pounds of force. To learn more about how a security door brace can keep you safe, watch the OnGARD Security Door Brace video.

Tip #4: Be Cautious When Alcohol is Involved

For some young adults, alcohol and college go hand in hand. If you’re going to drink, be sure you assess the potential dangers and how to avoid them before you take that first drink. This is especially important if you are a woman. To minimize the risk of being taken advantage of, follow these important tips:

  • NEVER go to a party by yourself. ALWAYS bring one or more trustworthy friends with you. 
  • NEVER accept a beverage from someone you don’t know. If you are not able to watch your drink being made, don’t drink it. 
  • ALWAYS stay with your drink—this includes non-alcoholic beverages. If you have to go to the bathroom, bring your drink with you. If you can’t bring it with you, finish your drink first then go. 

Tip #5:  Never Participate in a Hazing!

To put it bluntly, hazing’s are for idiots! Between the acts of violence and other foolish scenarios, many of today’s hazing rituals place people at risk of serious bodily harm. So don’t be an idiot—NEVER agree to be a part of a hazing. If you hear of someone who is planning to attend one, be a hero and report it to the authorities. 

Be Smart and Take Responsibility for Your Safety and Security at College

College should be a time of learning all you can about your field of study and being a responsible adult. Taking the responsibility to ensure your personal safety and security before you set off for school is a smart way to ensure your college experience is positive. 

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf