Parents can help their children be safe while they’re away at college by sharing and understanding these basic campus safety issues
Information is power. Any college student would agree. Every parent should remind their child of this when it comes to campus safety. As your adult children prepare for one of the most exciting developmental milestones of their adult lives, campus safety is one that will most likely be forgotten in the hubbub of first year studies, especially now that they’re settling into familiar roles and routines.
Campus safety is typically part of any orientation week and too often it gets lost in the whirlwind of course registration and dorm acclimation. That’s why we’ve come up with this helpful quiz to reassure parents and remind their college-aged children of all the support systems and safety measures on campus.
Since every shared living space has specific rules for that environment and are reinforced daily, we’ve addressed safety points around and beyond campus.
The quiz: You Are Here
Q: When you step out from a long workshop between classes and are scrolling through your texts, what are opportunistic people seeing?
A: Someone scrolling through $500. Smartphones are hot targets, especially on urban campuses where thieves prey.
Q: How do you know where you’re going without looking at your phone?
A: Before going out, memorize the destination. Identify the major intersections nearby and also the too-far point: if I hit Main Street I’ve gone too far. Having these simple checkpoints in your head increases familiarity with your neighborhood and makes you a more mindful explorer. The initial investment in time will save you a lot of time over four years. And you won’t look like such an easy target.
Q: What is the Clery Act and why does it matter?
A: Named after the victim of a horrific campus break-in at Lehigh University in 1986, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires that all U.S. colleges and universities that participate in financial aid programs must disclose crime statistics on and around campus.
Q: What is the most common crime in your campus neighborhood? (Clery Act)
A: Parents and students should request crime statistics and discuss it. Students, talk with your resident adviser/assistant (RA) or older friends that are familiar with campus areas. Parents, talk with your student about hot spots. What crimes are more likely? How can those incidents be minimized?
Q: What is the emergency alert protocol for your school? Who do you call if gunmen come on campus? How does the emergency alert system work?
A: The need for on-campus emergency protocol became a mandate for most college campuses after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, when engineering student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and injured 25. Unfortunately, other lethal campus shootings continue to happen. In 2010, on the third anniversary of Virginia Tech, the Secret Service, FBI and Department of Education released a comprehensive analysis of violent crimes on campus called Campus Attacks. Since then, nearly every university has adopted emergency protocol for what to do if there is a violent incursion on campus. Make sure students know or have programmed in their phone the campus emergency number.
The Federal Communications Commission provides an index of a handful of schools’ emergency policies. Security needs are unique to each school. In all the manuals and handbooks, or on the web, make a point to address with your child-student what those policies are.
Q: What is the evacuation protocol of your dorm and the building where you have most of your classes?
A: Again, every school’s protocol for natural and man-made disasters is different. Don’t be complacent in thinking someone else will know. Have a basic knowledge of security procedures. In every classroom, identify exit doors. In buildings where you have most of your classes, check out evacuation procedures or fire exits that are posted wherever there are fire extinguishers or alarms.
In dorms be aware of fire escape plans and routes, as well as alternative points of exit and entry.
Q: Do you know the following phone numbers?
Office of Student Life
24-hour student health number
A: Find out the vital numbers and have the student program them in his or her phone.
Q: In the case of an unbearable illness and sickness, what is the contact info for the student health office? Who should you contact?
A: In dorms, the RA is the first point of contact. Bookmark the Office of Student Life or Health Services or similar designation and save the info in your phone.
Q: Where are the nearest police and fire stations, and what is the nearest hospital?
A: Consider bookmarking a customized Google map that shows emergency services in relation to the student’s housing.
Q: Give an example of how someone could break into your dorm through 1.) windows 2.) door 3.) the ventilation system?
A: I know, it sounds ridiculous and we don’t want to instill fear, but prompting your student to consider alternative points of exit and entry can help in emergency situations and in general safety mindfulness.
Q: What is the most common violent crime committed on college campuses?
A: Rape. The National Institute of Justice reports that approximately one in four college women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape. Many cases of date rape or acquaintance rape are underreported for reasons such as shame, uncertainty, and familiarity with the attacker.
Anything that is not consensual sex is deemed rape and should be reported. Identify help lines, both at the college and nationally, for rape victims.
Fortunately, campus safety has become a priority for colleges and universities, and more resources are being applied to maintain vigilance. Students can and should participate in this vital role of self-awareness. For more information on particular schools, check out the Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Cutting Tool, where you can view “the campus’s last three years of safety- and security-related statistical data, along with general information about the campus.”
—this appears in partnership with HLNtv’s Raising America