It’s that time of year when your child is heading off to college. It can be both hectic and exciting, and — as a parent — you want to ensure your child is prepared for class and thinking about their safety.
According to a 2022 Best Colleges survey, 60% of current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students said that campus safety was a factor they considered when choosing their school.1 According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were over 6,500 reported burglaries on U.S. college campuses in 2021.2
As they return to their dorm room, apartment or even if they commute to and from school, safety should always be top-of-mind for students. As they settle into their new routines, they can also settle into complacency and assumptions, i.e., “My roommate is leaving for class in 30 minutes; I don’t need to lock the door,” “It’s cool enough outside to keep my window open for the night,” or “He knows my roommate, so I’ll walk home with him. I’m sure I can trust him.”
Encourage your child to understand and practice these safety measures on campus and in their “home away from home” to reduce risk and prevent harm
- Subscribe to campus alert systems or the university’s emergency notification network.
- Know how to access law enforcement, mental health, student affairs and legal professionals on or near campus.
- Familiarize themselves with the campus layout, especially their routes to and from classes, to ensure they’re using well-lit and secure access points.
- Know where emergency call boxes are located on campus and how to use them.
- Travel in groups and avoid going out alone at night. If they feel they’re being followed, change direction or go to the nearest business or home and ask someone to call the police. Take note of the person following you: hair, eye and skin color, height, weight, age, etc.
- Give your child a safety whistle.
- When attending a get-together or party, your child should guard their belongings, i.e., keys, wallet, purse, at all times. If they’re of age, their drink should never leave their hands. As they head to the restroom or to step outside, take the glass with them or dump it out and refill it when they return.
- Look out for one another. If a friend is acting in a way that is out of character (intoxicated or needs assistance), take notice and get help if needed.
- When returning home after class or work, your child should bring all valuables from their vehicle, i.e., keys, laptop, bag, equipment, etc.
- Immediately report any lost keys, broken locks or defective security systems to the property manager, landlord or resident assistant (RA). Never loan out keys or share your alarm passcode with anyone other than the occupants.
- Keep doors locked at all times, even if running in and out for a quick errand.
- Lock windows and limit the opening of accessible windows to a space of four inches or less. This can be done with specialty locks or a cut piece of a broom handle on the inside of the window.
- Tell/text a roommate or friend where you’re going and when you plan to return.
- Keep keys separate from purses or backpacks.
Safety should even be considered when your child is online. Encourage them not to share personal information or post their location, i.e., “check-in” or class schedule.
Lastly, perhaps most importantly, remind your child to listen to their gut. If something doesn’t feel right, someone is acting strangely around you, or they just get a “bad feeling,” they should exit a situation immediately and not be concerned about upsetting others or hurting their feelings.
Their safety is of the utmost priority.