Campus Safety Month
Keep in mind that no absolutes exist in crime scenarios and no advice can address every variable. Each situation must be assessed individually and responded to in the way that you instinctively judge is safest—no matter what you may have read or heard. The following tips offer the options and techniques that will help you make that assessment instinctively should it ever become necessary.
If you’d like a PDF ebook version of all 30 tips–with clickable resources–click here.
- Prepaid Credit Cards for Your College Student …
September is Campus Safety Awareness Month and I’ll be posting tips all month to help you keep your kids safe while they’re at college. Saw this great article from Kim Komando about prepaid credit cards that you should look into to keep costs down and help your college student learn fiscal responsibility. Here’s the link:
Also look into prepaid cell phones! Great money saver while still keeping your child safe.
- Tip #30 – September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month but Every Month Should Be!
Campus safety involves more than preventing sexual assault. There’s the problem of high-risk drinking, Illegal or prescription drug abuse, relationship violence including stalking, hazing cruelty and hate crimes, to name only a few.
For more information about campus safety and just about every personal safety topic that might concern you, tune in to the Crime Prevention 101 radio show.
- Tip #29 – Know Your Rights: On campus and Off: Campus Safety Awareness Month
On campus, there’s a Student Bill of Rights to help you navigate school, become productive citizens and functioning adults able to meet the challenges of the future. Know your academic rights and hold your school accountable.
In life, you have Assertive Rights to be treated with respect and express who you are without being seen as being disrespectful to others (as long as you cause no harm to others). You have the right, for example, to control your own behavior, thoughts and emotions, make your own mistakes and take full responsibility for your actions. You have the right to be listened to, taken seriously, change your mind about pretty much anything and there are plenty more. Embrace your assertive rights and they’ll liberate you.
As a human being, you have the right not to be picked on, bullied, stalked, beaten, abused, sexually assaulted or just plain afraid of someone…under any conceivable circumstances! Learn your Crime Victims Rights, and the legal consequences for their violation, and they’ll strengthen you. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #28 – Helping a Friend in Need: Campus Safety Awareness Month
A friend who’s been raped may confide in you after the attack (sometimes years after). When someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted simply listen quietly and let the person express her/his feelings. And, don’t ask probing or judgmental questions like “Why did you leave the party with someone you didn’t know?” Remember it’s not the victim’s fault, even if they did something “stupid” that made them vulnerable. That’s NEVER an excuse for a crime.
It’s important to seek help immediately if the attack just happened, because survivors of sexual violence, especially, experience a variety of emotional and physical symptoms. Encourage your friend by presenting options, including emergency contraception (NOT-2-LATE.COM; 1-888-NOT2LATE), but let the person make her/his own choices; including doing nothing. You also want to encourage your friend to seek counseling because no one should have to go through something like this alone.
Know your own limits. Give as much emotional support as you can, but know when to cut the discussion and defer to professionals. Helping your friend can be upsetting for you too and might even make you fearful, so you may want to seek counseling yourself for a bit to get a handle on your own feelings. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #27 – If You’ve Been Assaulted, Get Help: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Despite all your awareness, alertness and the other skills that have been proven to maximize safety, there’s no surefire way to prevent a crime. If you’ve been raped, go immediately to a hospital emergency room (ideally with a friend) for an examination. Going to a hospital doesn’t mean you have to report the crime to the police; they’ll keep everything confidential if you ask them to! Make up a “just in case” list of facilities in your area that have specially trained staff who treat rape victims sensitively and know how to administer a rape kit (not all hospitals do!). Your campus counseling center or a rape crisis hotline can give you local information. Don’t shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth after a rape and keep anything with DNA samples on it, such as clothing, so you can preserve physical proof of the rape in case you decide, at a later date, to prosecute your attacker. You never have to prosecute; but it’s wise to keep your options open.
The absolute best way to put a traumatic event into perspective and get on with your life is to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Most campuses have counseling centers that won’t disclose what you tell them or call one of the national hotlines like RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE) or the National Center for Victims of Crime for immediate compassionate help and local referrals.
And, hold onto this thought: If you’ve been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault—even if you think you did something stupid that made you vulnerable—and, you’re not alone. Please, please, please, men too, reach out and get help. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #26 – Resisting Sexual Assault: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Most rapes involve someone known to the victim, so consider these hard questions beforehand to help you act decisively, if necessary. Under what circumstance(s) would physical resistance be called for? Could I hurt someone I know and trust, if he was trying to assault me? Could I treat a boyfriend or good friend who was trying to rape or assault me the same as I would treat a stranger?
Physical resistance is not just kicking and punching. Don’t be afraid to scream a loud “NO!” in a situation where you feel you’re being coerced. The real purpose of giving out a loud yell is to break through fear and panic. Don’t hesitate to be rude or make a noisy scene to attract attention to yourself if you can’t handle a situation. Run away if there’s a close place to escape to, like a store, a building with a doorman, a club with a lot of people. If you can’t get away directly, use a strategy like saying you have to go to the bathroom…and then leave. Carry a canister of pepper spray and learn how to use it. Take a self defense or rape prevention course (at least one a year!) to develop the physical skills to resist an attacker. Want more tips: http://www.susanbartelstone.com/2009/safetytips-success.html.
To Survivors: Cooperating with an attacker, with or without resistance, is always a valid choice. Do whatever you feel will save your life; there are no right or wrong responses. Cooperation doesn’t equal consent and neither does asking a rapist to wear a condom so you don’t have to worry about pregnancy, HIV/AIDS or other STDs. It’s customary to feel guilt or shame after a sexual assault, but the blame always falls on the attacker, not the victim, even if you did something you feel was stupid or made you vulnerable. No one has to the right to rape, beat or abuse you ever, under any conceivable circumstances! Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #25 – Pressing Charges Against Someone You Know: Campus Safety Awareness Month
If you were raped, assaulted, bullied or harassed by a date, boy/girlfriend, classmate, roommate, campus acquaintance or even someone you worked with, would you be emotionally able to report the incident to the police or the appropriate authorities?
Prosecuting someone you know can be emotionally devastating, especially for a sexual assault, so you want to be aware of what you might face beforehand. How would you handle adverse reactions from relatives, mutual friends, classmates or co-workers if you reported the incident, for example? Don’t be surprised if you meet with disapproval regarding your decision or that those close to you aren’t supportive. It happens. If you’re in a stalking situation, be aware that taking action (legal or otherwise) to block a stalker can anger him/her and prompt them up the ante. Also, laws vary from state to state.
To help you evaluate your situation clearly, get some counseling and support in order to determine your options. Campus departments such as the dean’s office, security or campus police or a counseling center, are a good starting point. National organizations, your local police and/or District Attorney’s Office or off-campus groups like a Family Justice Center are also available to give information and resources. Bottom line: it’s your decision to make and it’s ok to take a pass. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #24 – Set Clear Boundaries: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Communicate clearly about how you want AND expect to be treated…and this applies to both girls and boys. Acting sorry or unsure sends mixed messages and it can be difficult to know how a person feels without hearing it, assertively, from them. Tell your date/partner what you want or don’t want and stick with your decisions. Listen carefully and if you feel you’re getting mixed messages, ask for clarification rather than assume.
If you’re feeling pressured, talk honestly about sex and what would be most enjoyable together–whether to a date or to your boy/girlfriend. Don’t permit abusive or demeaning language, gestures or physical violence in a dating or long-term relationship. This is a bad sign of things to come. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #23 – Abusive Relationships and Stalking: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Are you afraid to disagree with your boyfriend or partner or fear making him/her angry? Has your boyfriend/partner hit, punched, pushed, shaken or choked you? Or, are you afraid he/she will? Are you afraid to breakup with him/her? These are some of the signs of an abusive relationship. Does your boyfriend/partner check up on you constantly; need to know your whereabouts at all times; check your phone messages or computer; text, email or call you excessively? Do you need permission to do things or go places without him/her? Are you afraid to breakup with him/her? This is called stalking and these are some of the signs.
Abusive relationships and stalking often go hand in hand and are epidemic on college campuses these days. If your answer is yes to more than one of the above questions, the relationship you’re is putting you at high risk of being abused, hurt or even killed. And, abusive behavior escalates over time, so speak to a counselor on campus as soon as possible or check out some national resources for help on what to do. A few personal safety products you want to know about: the Bully Block app and the MyForce app and personal safety service for your smart phone. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #22 – Date Rape Drugs: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Sometimes the bad guys put substances in the punch bowl or into a drink at a party, bar or club to make a the target of a sexual assault dazed, confused and unable to resist. These are called date rape drugs and they can be odorless, colorless and tasteless, so you might not know if something has been added to your drink. They can also be very dangerous. Feeling woozy or drunk without having had too much to drink is one of the most common symptoms that you may have been slipped something. If you’re with friends, find them immediately and have them take you to the hospital or call a cab and go on your own.
To avoid this as much as possible, always try to get your own drink or watch it being poured. Be careful about drinking from a communal punch bowl and don’t drink or taste anyone else’s drink, especially if you don’t know the person very well. If your drink tastes odd for any reason, dispose of it and get another one that you are sure is untainted. Try not to leave your drink unattended, but if you have to for some reason, carry a Date Rape Drink Coaster or a similar product and test it. It’s simple to do. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #21 – Safe Dates: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Most rapes are not committed by strangers but by someone you already know: a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, blind date, friend of the family, someone who lives nearby, works with you, delivers packages to your home. Physical force may be involved or simply the threat of force. There may only be emotional badgering or intimidation.
Some pointers: don’t go out alone with someone you don’t know well for several dates at least (not just one). Go somewhere there are people around–a movie, a coffee shop or double date. Always tell someone where you’re going, with whom, and what time you expect to be home. If you’re feeling nervous or uneasy at any time, end the date and get out of there as soon as you can. Have a pre-arranged plan for what to do if something goes wrong and keep your cell phone charged and handy.
And, those of you who think it’s kewl to dress like your favorite reality TV star or slut-ebrity when going out, listen up: In a perfect world, yes, you have the right to wear whatever you want, but you can’t predict how other people will interpret your manner of dress, especially if they don’t know you well. What someone wears is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER justification for rape (or even disrespectful behavior); but, just like we shouldn’t have to put locks on our doors or bars on our windows; it’s, sadly, safer to do so. Dress on the side of caution; you can still look great. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #20 – Consenting Sex or Date Rape? Campus Safety Awareness Month
Clear verbal communication without intimidation or threats = consensual sex. Both parties must be awake when the act occurs; and, many states have laws that a person must be sober or not mentally impaired in any way in order to give true consent.
To help you communicate your feelings clearly, both girls and boys, think about how you’d respond to social pressures about drinking, doing drugs, having sex or anything else that might be difficult for you. Try to clarify what role sex plays in your life, what role you want it to play and how important is it to you to be “popular.”
Talk with your friends (they’re probably just as confused as you are) or school counselors or even (yikes) your parents to help you sort things out. Maybe role playing how to express your desires and limits under difficult circumstances will be helpful. Maybe ask a teacher, student group or counseling center on campus to present a program about how both boys and girls could handle themselves on a date. Find an e-book on this subject; there are a lot of good ones available. This is an ongoing process, even for adults, but trust your instincts and know that the clearer you are, the easier it gets over time. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #19 – Watch Out for Each Other: Campus Safety Awareness Month
If it’s just you and the gurls (or guys) going out on the town, make a pact to watch out for each other, so no one wakes up with regrets the morning after. Come up with a sign or signal for when you should intervene if someone is in an uncomfortable situation and don’t be afraid to speak up or step in and investigate if a situation seems questionable to you. By getting involved early, you could prevent someone from becoming the victim of sexual assault OR prevent someone you know from committing this crime!
If you’re driving to the party or club, designate a sober driver for the evening and vow never to get into a vehicle with someone who’s drunk/high. Agree to all leave together but always have a pre-planned way home (and spare cash in hand) just in case. Program a few car service numbers into your cell phone speed dial or find out if there’s a ride service, like RightRides, in your area that gives women free rides home late at night. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #18 – The Sober Brother Buddy System: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Fraternities giving parties should designate, on a rotating basis, several “sober brothers” who agree not to drink and are responsible for monitoring the behavior of party-goers to make sure nothing gets out of hand.
Some of their responsibilities would be to make sure no one spikes the punch and no one is using date rape drugs on party participants. Upstairs rooms should be monitored periodically so that no coerced sexual activities are taking place and any sexual activity involving more than one person should be strictly forbidden (that’s called gang rape, ya’all). No one who’s had a lot to drink should be allowed to drive and if someone needs a ride home, a sober brother would be the driver or arrange for car service. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #17 – The Sober Sister Buddy System: Campus Safety Awareness Month
If you’re in a sorority or social club, establish a rotating “sober sister buddy system” for checking up on one another at parties, when bar hopping or at other social gatherings. At each event, at least two people should be the designated non-drinkers (the “sober sisters”) whose job it is to check on the others every hour or so to be sure everything is ok. That way everyone can relax knowing someone will be looking out for them.
Agree beforehand that if a “sober sister” tells you you’ve had enough to drink, you’re honor-bound to listen and act accordingly. Also, set procedures for when a sorority member is ready to leave the party or bar. For example, you must tell one of the “sober sisters” that you’re leaving and with whom so the situation can be evaluated for safety; or, if you’re leaving alone, a sober sister must find someone to accompany you (especially important if you’ve been drinking). Many colleges provide escort services, free car services and maybe there’s a RightRides in your area.
And, no sorority sister should attend a party alone or be left at a party alone. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #16 – Personal Responsibility Increases Personal Safety! Campus Safety Awareness Month
Drugs and/or alcohol are estimated to be involved in 90% of date/acquaintance rapes and are involved in many other types of campus crimes including hazing and hate crimes. They affect your ability to make intelligent or life-saving decisions, such as identifying danger signs and finding ways to escape, and they relax your inhibitions about things you might not ordinarily do, like leaving a party with someone you don’t know or getting into a car with someone who’s drunk.
Can’t say it enough: Be responsible for what and how much you consume because personal responsibility increases personal safety. Also can’t say it enough: No one deserves to be raped, assaulted or abused, ever, no matter what the circumstances. Even if you think you did something stupid that made you vulnerable, the blame ALWAYS falls squarely on the attacker. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #15 – Know Your Risks and Options: Campus Safety Awareness Month
College-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group and the most vulnerable population for college campus rape is freshman girls during the first few months of school. The majority of rapes will be committed by someone the victim knows. Date rape is when someone is forced to have sex by a person he/she is dating while acquaintance rape is when the rape is committed by someone the victim knows but isn’t dating, like the person who lives down the hall or the pizza delivery guy. An estimated 5% to 10% of rapes committed in the US is same-sex rape involving male victims, but most colleges don’t include information on same-sex rape in their rape education programming. Alcohol and/or drugs are involved in 90% of all campus crimes.
Though no precautions are foolproof, being aware of potentially dangerous situations and pre-rehearsing options reduces the risk of becoming a crime or rape victim and maximizes your safety. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #14 – Be Physically Prepared For Trouble: Campus Safety Awareness Month
It’s highly recommended that all students (female and male) take at least one self defense course a year. It’ll give you confidence and ease your personal safety concerns.
Most schools offer martial arts or self defense or rape awareness classes and there may be off-campus programs that are easy to get to as well. Two good resources that will come to your college and do courses: Girls Fight Back and Kidpower (for both girls and boys). Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #13 – Great Programs for Students: Campus Safety Awareness Month
You also want to have the folks from the Bringing in the Bystander program, which originated at the University of NH, come in to teach students how to intervene safely in cases where a sexual assault may be occurring or where there may be some risk to students. You can find information on these programs at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Great for both male and female students. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #12 – How Safe Is Your School? Campus Safety Awareness Month
Colleges and universities are mandated by law to provide information about campus crime rates, statistics for off-campus areas relevant to student life, and, upon request, information about any registered sex offenders enrolled in or employed at the institution.
Schools are also supposed to offer personal safety orientation programs for new students at the beginning of the school year. Know your rights and be sure to check on what’s offered at your college. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #11 – Campus Elevator Safety: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Don’t get on a campus elevator (or any elevator for that matter) with someone you get a bad feeling about. Always trust your instincts. If you’re already in the elevator, get off at the next floor and take a different one.
In an empty elevator, stand sideways by the button panel with your back to the wall so no one can get in front of you or behind you. It there’s an emergency, hit all the floor buttons (NOT the STOP button) so the elevator will stop at every floor and afford an opportunity to attract attention to your plight or to escape.
And please, report any suspicious persons to Security; maybe save someone else from a tragedy! Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #10 – Stay Alert: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Stay alert when walking around on campus, even in the middle of the day. Listening to music on your iPod or talking/texting on your cell phone can distract you and make you a good target for robbery or assault because your guard is down. And, just like out in the street, don’t flash that cash (or expensive jewelry or fancy clothing). Crime Prevention 101
For more tips on Meeting Up with a Mugger.
- Tip #9 – ID Your Property: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Mark your laptop, TV, audio equipment and other personal property with etched ID numbers — preferably BEFORE you leave for college — and have your parents keep an inventory of your property. Your local police department can advise you how to do this.
Keep checkbooks, credit cards and important papers that contain sensitive information like social security numbers out of sight and in a locked file to prevent identity theft. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #8 – Get Early Warning: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Get Early Warning. Whether you live off-campus or on, close and lock your windows at night if you have no screens. Hang wind chimes or other objects on the windows and put flower pots, statues or other breakable items on the sills–anything that will sound an alarm if someone tries to enter and catch you unawares. Early warning can save your life. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #7 – Off Campus Safety: Campus Safety Awareness Month
If you live off-campus, keep your apartment door locked whether you’re there or not and don’t leave the door unlocked for your roommate if you have to go out or when you go to sleep. Only give out your key to trusted friends (tell the roommate too!) and change locks immediately if your key is lost or stolen. Same goes for dorm rooms. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #6 – Dorm Room Safety: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Dorm room doors (or off-campus apartment doors) should have angled peep holes and deadbolt locks. Windows should have screens and locks. If they don’t, advise your campus housing authority, resident advisor or student advisor immediately.
Always verify who’s there before you open your door. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #5 – Cell Phones & Safety: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Program your cell phone with campus emergency numbers and invest in a smart phone service like My Force, a concierge personal safety service that can locate you wherever you are and call for the appropriate help if you’re in trouble.
Then program your phone’s speed dial with numbers for your family, friends or roommate. A good way to designate them: ICE1-Mother-Ruth; ICE2-Roommate-Sarah, etc. ICE means In Case of Emergency and will alert emergency service personnel who you want called and in what order … ICE. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #4 – Tell Someone: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Let friends, roommates and dorm personnel know your class and activity schedule if it involves late nights. Also a good idea to tell them if you’ll be out late on a date or at a party. This may seem very “high school” but you’ll be glad you did if something does occur and they have to go looking for you. Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #3 – Staying Out Late: Campus Safety Awareness Month
If you have to come back to your dorm or apartment late at night, find out if your campus provides shuttle busses or escort services. Most do. If they’ve stopped running when you need them, try to find someone to walk with. If that’s not possible, stay alert, get a loud whistle to blow into an assailant’s ear and carry a canister of pepper spray (in your hand!). Crime Prevention 101
- Tip #2 – Pick Your Routes: Campus Safety Awareness Month
Map out the safest (not necessarily the fastest) route between your residence hall, classes and other activities. Note where emergency call boxes are located, if there’s a “safe spot” you could run to if you were being chased or followed and what time the paths are heavily trafficked or empty. Observe where the trees or other objects are that someone could hide behind and catch you unawares, so you can steer clear of them. Report any areas that should be better lighted or have a Security Call Box to your dorm authority and the Campus Security Department. They SHOULD thank you!
- Tip #1 – Be Mentally Prepared For Trouble. Campus Safety Awareness Month
Be mentally prepared for trouble. Identify at least five campus safety concerns and make a safety plan with options for each concern you have, so you can act quickly and escape safely if something should happen. Rehearse your safety plans from time to time so they become second nature. That way, you can concentrate on other things. Crime Prevention 101