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In a world where school shootings are becoming an normalized danger of American life, parents are more aware of their need to know how to best protect their children. But what about the children who are transitioning to adulthood while away at college? How can parents know their kids will be safe while off at college?
The fact is, parents cannot assume their students’ campuses are safe based solely on the universities safety policies and procedures, though understanding what those procedures are is the first step.
Every year, Niche rates college campuses for their level of safety using their own rubric to evaluate it. The 2017 Safest College Campuses ranking, Niche says, is “based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Top-ranked colleges offer a safe and healthy environment with little or no campus crime, drugs, or alcohol usage” with Brigham Young University ranking as #1 Safest college.
Campus Safety Magazine, however, refers to safe college ranking lists as irresponsible, stating, “We chose not to create this list, however, because we realized it would be a disservice to students and their parents. We came to the conclusion that ranking colleges as the “most safe” or “most dangerous” was impossible because there are too many variables (campus size, location, number of students, culture, etc.) for the comparisons to be fair or accurate. Instead, it would just mislead the general public.
They go on to say that most importantly, they realized that ranking colleges’ safety and security programs would actually make colleges more dangerous and reverse the progress made by victim advocates that have been working diligently to encourage colleges to report crime. For the full explanation of why they are opposed to the safety rankings of colleges, you can read their blog Publishing the ‘25 Most Dangerous Colleges in America’ List Is Irresponsible.”
While we believe these list of questions as a great start, we know that your the best line of defense begins with personal safety. Your student is their own best security officer.
Here are a few steps and tools that can help students get a lock down on their own level of protection.
Minimal Investment & Easy
Buddy system — Make a commitment to yourself & your parents that you will not be alone in social situations, at night on campus, or walking to your car in the dark
BYO Bottle — Don’t accept open container drinks from someone you don’t know. Bring your own beverage in a lidded bottle to ensure no one has slipped a pill into your drink.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Campus Escort Services
Moderate Investment & Effort
Charged Smart Phone with Video Capability — Having video capabilities allows you to help identify perpetrators after the fact, but can also help when deterring assailants. Tell them you have them on video and if they do anything, you will easily be able to prove it.
Download Campus Safe App — http://campussafe.com CampusSafe is a mobile safety & security app that will inform, report and assist your students & faculty.
Download a personal safety app, such as SafeTrek, which was developed for college students.
Portable GPS Tracker — Hand held trackers like iTrail Solo offer real time tracking and panic buttons. Let your support system know exactly where you are in case of emergency. https://www.myitrail.com/product/small-gps-tracker-extended-battery/1/
Lock box for belongings — Place your laptop, credit cards, and important documents in a locked compartment for safe keeping in your dorm. No one will steal what they cannot open!
Take a Free Self-Defense Class at a local police department — public services like police departments or recreation centers often offer free classes to learn how to defend yourself from attack.
Serious Investment & Highly Effective
Detection Device — Sweep your dorm or apartment for hidden cameras to assure your privacy is being respected.
Portable Hidden Camera — Hidden cameras come in all shapes, sizes, and objects. Here’s a fabulous backpack with a hidden camera.
GPS Tracker for Your Car — Real time location updates on your car.
Carry a Taser — Stun Guns can look like a flashlight but deliver a range of intensity from mild pain to intolerable. The stronger the charge, the more expensive the gun. ($25 - $100)
Review this with your student and make sure they have the skills and tools needed to survive and thrive at their time in college!