7 Safety Tips All College Students Should Know
Safety on college campuses has long been a concern for students, parents, and university faculties. Between 2001 and 2014, the most recent data available, on-campus crimes decreased by 35%. However, despite this decrease, some crimes remain relatively prevalent.
For instance, burglary constituted 50% of all on-campus incidents in 2014. Furthermore, the only crime that did not decrease from 2001 to 2014 was forcible sex offenses. So while universities have put in a lot of work to make sure their campuses are a safe place, on-campus crime is unfortunately still something students and university faculty need to be vigilant about.
How to Make Yourself Less Vulnerable to Crime
While there is, unfortunately, no way to completely prevent ourselves from becoming the victim of a crime, there are certain steps each of us can take to help us stay safe.
Avoid high crime areas
Crime tends to occur in certain places over others. In fact, areas with signs of disorder, neglected buildings, and poorly lit places tend to have higher crime rates. If you’re unsure about which parts of your city tend to see higher rates of crime, visit your local police station or your on-campus police department.
Walk with groups of people rather than alone
Walking home alone, especially at night, can put you at an unnecessary vulnerability. Always know where you are going and walk with confidence. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re alone and feel uncomfortable, try calling a friend for a ride.
Remove valuables from your car
Thieves look for opportunities and appealing targets. Therefore, remove any valuables from your car or from out in the open in your dorm or apartment. Additionally, try and find parking in well-lit, busy parking lots where there is a fair amount of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Having a constant flow of people around can be an easy way to help deter thieves.
Always be aware of your surroundings
When we’re on our own, it can be easy to pass the time by checking our phones. But in situations where you’re alone or walking at night, it’s best to keep your head up and to stay alert. Georgia State University psychologist, Volkan Topalli, stresses the importance of being aware of your surroundings, noticing who’s around you, walking with purpose, and only making brief eye contact with others.
Learn how to defend yourself
Educating yourself on self-defense strategies can help you feel less anxious in public and more secure about your surroundings. Many universities and local community centers offer free classes where you can learn the basics on how to disable an attacker in order to escape a life threatening situation. Also, you might consider carrying a whistle or pepper spray. But before you do, be sure to check with your university’s policies about these items.
Be cautious of social media posts
Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint for $10 million worth of jewelry, and police pointed to her social media presence as a major factor in making her vulnerable. Though it may be fun to check-in at a local bar or upload vacation pictures while you’re still sitting on that nice sunny beach, consider who might use that information for potential harm. Refrain from sharing your location and consider disabling your location services so predators cannot easily locate you.
Where something extra for protection
There are a number of safety tools available to you that are effective and easy to use. The Cuff collection is a line of fashionable jewelry that alerts your selected network of people when you need assistance by simply tapping on your device. Another unique tool is the Wearsafe personal safety device. This device sends live audio to your network of friends with the press of a button.
Campus Safety Resources to be Aware of
Colleges take on-campus safety very seriously. Therefore, a variety of different resources for students and campus staff is available at most universities.
Crime notices and emails
As required by federal law, colleges send out crime alerts to students, faculty, and staff regarding relevant advisories to alert anyone who may be affected by a criminal incident. These crime advisories may include descriptions of the suspect and may even call on the community for assistance in collecting information in order to apprehend the suspect.
Emergency call boxes
Emergency call boxes are activated by opening the door on the box and pressing the call button. The call box connects you to the local police, who will then respond accordingly when an incident is occurring. These boxes can usually be identified by flashing blue lights and are usually located in multiple areas throughout campus for your convenience.
Escort and shuttle services
Many campuses offer escort and shuttle services to help students who are out late at night get home safely without incident.
Counseling and mental health services
If the unfortunate happens and you fall victim to a crime, there are many resources to get you through the stress and anxiety that can follow. Counseling and mental health services are offered at most campuses, and generally, the first few appointments are free. This is a great opportunity to get professional advice and be able to talk to someone about any issues you may be having.
Safety Apps to Consider
SafeTrek: If you are feeling unsafe in any environment, you simply open the SafeTrek app and hold down the safe button. Once you are safe you simply release the button and enter your 4 digit pin. If you are in danger, simply release the button, do not enter the pin, and police will be sent to your location.
MyForce: This is a one-touch app that sends an alert to a live security monitoring team that provides the authorities with crucial details to expedite help. This app provides emergency response units with the exact location, physical description, your emergency contact information, and more.
Companion App: This app allows your family and friends to monitor your location and status in real time. You can also alert the police and receive help with just one tap.
Circle of 6: This app was originally designed for college students to prevent sexual violence. With simply two taps you can let your circle of friends (6 that you choose) know where you are and how they can help.