The last thing you want to have to worry about if your son or daughter is headed to college is their safety. So how can you tell if the schools they’re considering are a safe place to live? Here are some basic tips to help put you at ease.
Research campus safety statistics. Federal law requires that colleges and universities disclose any crimes that have occurred on campus.
Research safety statistics in the surrounding area. You can visit the city police department website and often find crime statistics, or read the “police beat” section of the local paper online to get a sense of what’s happening in the nearby area.
Get some local advice. If your child is planning to live off campus, ask the student housing office to connect you with someone who knows the area well to help find an apartment that’s in a safe area.
Check into the campus police office. Find out what resources the campus security team offers. For example, some schools offer escorts for students who are returning to their dorms late at night.
What’s next? Before your child heads off to school, be sure to teach them basic safety tips. If they’re like many teenagers, they probably feel invincible but teaching them these common steps will help protect them while they’re away at school.
• Always tell a friend or roommate where you’re going
• Don’t walk alone at night. Many attacks occur in remote areas or in places like parking garages.
• Lock your dorm room door.
• Lock your car and park in a well-lit area.
• Look in the back seat of your car before getting in to make sure no one is inside.
• Don’t loiter in your car checking text or doing other tasks. Get in your car, lock the door, and go.
• Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your instincts and leave.
• Be careful about what you share online. Remember that much of the information you share online is public and can easily fall into the wrong hands.
• Be prepared. Always keep a fully charged phone, the number of a reliable cab company, and enough cash to get yourself home.
• Guard your drink. Don’t ever accept a drink from someone you don’t trust.
• Know the facts. Sexual assailants often target people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The best bet is to keep safe and avoid these substances. For added safety, make an agreement with friends that if any of you become intoxicated, you’ll make sure to get them home safely.
• Don’t allow strangers to follow you into the dorms. If you aren’t sure of someone, call campus security. It’s better to be safe.
• Have added protection. If your campus allows it, you may want to keep mace or pepper spray on you just in case you need it. Be sure you get a lesson on proper usage beforehand.
• Take a self-defense class. This may seem like an added task when your child has so much to do before heading to college, but it could give them the skills to save their life.