Archive for category Campus safety

Your Daughter’s Campus Safety and Security: 3 Tips

Although we like to think of our daughter’s years away at college as safe and idealistic, the reality is that her time at school puts her at risk. Enhancing your daughters campus safety and security is paramount

RAINN, (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that close to 1 in 6 college-aged women received assistance from a victim services agency.

Although there is no 100% guaranteed strategy for keeping our daughters safe, there are many empowering precautions they can take.

Of course, the cardinal rule is to always use the Buddy System.  They learned it in kindergarten, and it’s a classic for a reason.  You don’t stop using the Buddy System just because you turn 18 – in fact, it’s more important than ever, because the stakes become higher as our daughters leave the protection of parents and home.

Here are 3 highly effective strategies to enhance your daughter’s personal safety both on and off campus:

1. Even If I Can’t See You, I WILL HEAR YOU.

That means headphones off, earbuds put away. No exceptions when in public. Some argue that wearing headphones is a useful social signal that indicates they don’t want to talk.  A predator just sees an easier target.  We need the full range of all our senses, at all times. Hearing alerts us to when we are being approached from behind. Police remind us that 90% of surprise attacks are launched from closer than 15 feet behind an unaware person.

2. BYOB.

Bring your own beverage and pay attention to it.  Ideally, this will be in a reusable bottle with an attached lid.  This dramatically cuts down on opportunities for someone to tamper with or switch the drink.  Remember, most often it is someone with whom your daughter is acquainted,  or may even know well, who will attempt to spike her drink. Even ice could contain a predatory drug, such as GHB, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless.  Have her bring her own bottle everywhere and protect it, all the time, just as she would her wallet.

3. Lock It Up, Lock It Down.

On university campuses, as in life, complacency sets in, and people get lax about locking doors and windows.  This can be especially problematic in dormitory buildings.  One person propping open a back door – even innocently, as a favor to a roommate, for example, puts everyone at risk. Unlocked windows are often an overlooked security risk, especially on the ground floor. If your daughter will be sharing off campus housing, seriously consider installing a lock on her bedroom door.

While the risks of college life are real, don’t let fear drive your daughter’s university experience.  Instead, incorporate these and other tips for personal safety and security as part of her education, which will empower her for life.

— Jennifer Kaminer, 28 Feb 2017


Related:  Personal Safety Webinar for young Women in College 




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Women’s Personal Safety on Campus

Young women, aged 18-24, attending college, are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than the general population.

According to RAINN, 23.1 percent of female students experience rape or sexual assault via physical force, violence, or incantation.

That’s a little over one in 5 young women … and those are only the ones we know of.  The real number is much higher.

This is why addressing women’s personal safety on campus is paramount.

It is imperative that we inform our daughters what they’re really up against — and how to better protect themselves.

Common sense tips such as “use the buddy system” and “don’t walk home alone at night” are valuable and have their place. However, those tips ignore the fact that, according to the University of Michigan, most sexual assaults are committed by someone we already know and trust, and most assaults happen in familiar surroundings. Hence, the term “Acquaintance Rape.”

Most young woman and their parents find this fact counterintuitive, but once they understand it, are able to put in place powerful strategies to not become another statistic.

Remember, the mind is the most powerful weapon.

When you change your “mental setting” from “prey” to “powerful” – that energy permeates though your body language, and shows up as confidence and strength.

Use your mind, body language, and strategy to develop “command presence” – this will broadcast to the world that you are not an easy target, which is the best deterrent against opportunistic, predatory fellow students and acquaintances,who are the most common offenders!! (Think: Entitled Frat Boys!)

We know the buddy system is always recommended, but the larger the group, the better.  Go out together, and come home together.  Leave no one behind.  At parties or events, agree to check in with each other at pre-determined times. Use the buddy system when going to the bathroom, or to retrieve a coat from a back room. Why? This how a lone young woman gets dragged into a room and assaulted.

What is your plan if you think you or a friend have been drugged?  Do you have a pre-determined “distress code” to alert the other members of your group?  Have you rehearsed the power of your numbers, and the strength of your loud voices together to create a scene that would deter anyone with bad intent?

Walking home at night will happen.  But again, walk in a group. Carry yourselves with confident presence and scan your surroundings – just two of several presentations that victim selection studies reveal you as “harder targets.”

Don’t be shy to ask TWO trusted young men within your peer group to walk with you – but don’t let your guard down.

There is no one magic bullet that will keep you or your young woman 100% safe on campus.  But the more strategies you put in place, the safer you will all be.

Parents, you should all know what the Cleary Act is, and why it is so critical in choosing a school that is entrusted with your daughter’s safety.

– Jennifer Kaminer, 9 February 2017


Women’s Safety On Campus: Live Webinar Training 

Women’s Personal Safety and Male-Encoded Language

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Working Late? Parking Lot Safety Tips.

If you will be working late, be sure to move your vehicle to a well light parking place that is closest to the door by which you will exit before it gets dark.

Do not leave valuables in view inside your car.

Remember to back into your parking space allowing for a more rapid egress if a threatening situation develops.

Try and leave the building with co workers if possible. The buddy system leaves you less vulnerable.

A small high intensity flashlight is helpful for illuminating the area around and under your vehicle, and allows you to check the back seat before unlocking and getting in.

Have your keys in your hands before you leave the building and remember to use the panic button on your key fob if you sense something is amiss.

Try and walk down the middle of the parking aisle keeping as much distance between you and the parked cars on either side.  Don’t take shortcuts between vehicles.

Always walk with purpose and scan your surroundings.

Once in your vehicle, lock the doors immediately and get underway.

Always trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about walking out to your vehicle don’t!

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Stop Signs. A Domestic Violence Resource


I had the opportunity to read Stop Signs authored by my friend Lynn Fairweather who is a threat assessment and domestic violence expert. As a personal safety trainer and consultant and father of two daughters, I was particularly eager to read this book and share the “golden nuggets” with them and those I interact with on a professional level.


I found this book to be well balanced. While I have read several books on domestic violence, I have never seen one as comprehensive as Stop Signs. The book is segmented into three equal parts devoted to recognizing, avoiding, and escaping dating / domestic abuse and violence. It therefore applies to all women: those who have never been abused, those who are currently being abused, and those that have left an abuser.


This book serves as a resource, a safety plan, and offers self-help empowerment all in one. It is an intuitive read and also gives voice to survivors in dialog boxes that are strategically placed to drive home the teachable moments.  This style is in keeping with Lynn’s “lived experience” as she too is a survivor of domestic violence and is therefore able to bring a personal as well as a professional perspective to the topic.


Who should read this book and keep it on the shelf as a domestic violence resource? Anyone from a mother with young daughters, to someone in an abusive relationship all the way over to a threat assessment / security professional or HR personal in the corporate sector.


The book is available at Amazon.

Lynn is the founder and president of Presage Consulting & Training, an Oregon based organization specializing in fatality reduction through threat assessment and management.

Lynn’s contact details appear below.


Lynn Fairweather, M.S.W.

Presage Consulting and Training

Portland, OR

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Human Predators & Personal Safety While Walking or Jogging

The Animal Kingdom

Think back to the documentary on television where the lioness is hunting.  She stalks a herd of deer as they approach a water hole.  She waits in the same place because she knows that the deer, being highly predictable, will come by at the same time every day. They must do so to drink.

As she moves in, she stays well hidden and singles out her target; usually the very young or very old, the sick member of the herd or the animal least aware of its surroundings! They are easy or “soft targets”. The inattentive animal doesn’t look up from grazing and hardly scans its surroundings. This is the animal that is also not listening and clearly does not know what is going on behind it. The lioness is much attuned to the body language of the inattentive. So are human predators!

If she is not hunting under her preferred cover of darkness, she will try to have the sun behind her so the herd is blinded making her even more difficult to see. She moves in as close as she can and then launchers her attack from behind, her victim’s blind spot.  If possible she will run her prey toward a terrain feature such as a steep embankment to be sure she channels it in the direction of her choosing. By the time her victim realizes what is going on its too late and the attack is complete.

If her intended prey starts to pay more attention to its surroundings and moves back into the middle of the herd where it will find safety in numbers, the lioness will wait, pass over what has now become a “hard target” and look again for an easy mark. This is called the victim selection process and is not unlike the process human predators go through. Victims are chosen, the process is not random and the attack plan well thought out.

Human predators operate in much the same way. Their ideal target too exhibits the three elements that make them “a victim looking for a place to happen”;  lack of awareness of surroundings, predictability of schedule, and placing themselves alone in an isolated environment.

Some Tips and Safety Strategies to Consider now that it is Getting Darker Earlier

  • If you run with one or two buddies, you are safer and have made those isolated areas less of a threat.  This is even more important in early morning and evening low light hours.
  • If you walk or run on different trails on different days at slightly different times with you buddy team you have exponentially hardened your target profile. Remember, predictability is one of your enemies.
  • Hearing is your parallel primary protective special sense. It’s on par with vision, so leave the head phones at home. People who have had close calls often tell us they heard someone coming up behind them before they saw them, giving them time to react.
  • If you must run alone, choose busier well light streets and run FACING traffic, making it difficult for a vehicle to pull along side. Also let someone know your route and the time you expect to return.
  • Always know where your “safe havens” are located. This could be a busy coffee shop or retail area, a well light parking lot or even a knowing at which homes along the route people are home.
  • Always bring your cell phone with you and be sure to keep track of any areas where there is weak or no signal.  Place it in a small Ziploc bag if you are worried about moisture.
  • If you carry pepper spray, carry it in your hand with a wrap band. It will only be of help to you if you can bring it to bear and discharge in an instant. Buy fogger sprayers NOT stream dispensers!
  • One of the best “things” you can bring on a run or walk is a dog. Regardless of size, they are good early warning systems and are just another layer of complications for a would be assailant.
  • If it’s cold wear earmuffs, NOT a hoodie which robs you of peripheral vision. Hoodies can also be grabbed and used as a “handle” by which to control you.
  • Remember that the most important area to be aware of is the blind spot behind you. The place ambush or blitz attacks are launched from.
  • Carrying a small personal alarm is preferred by some as is a small very high intensity flashlight that can temporarily blind an assailant and illuminate those dark areas that offer great hiding places.  These items can be easily clipped onto your waistband which is where your cell phone should be too.

Social Media and your Personal Safety

  • Do not plan runs or announce rendezvous points to your exercise buddies  via any social media or networking platform
  • If you want to post about a pleasant exercise outing, do so after the fact and keep the details, especially the route and location very vague.

 The Danger of Complacency

At this very moment and as you read this would be criminals or predators are not your primary enemy. Complacency is.  Do not fall into a false sense of security telling yourself “We live in a good area” or “Nothing bad ever happens here”.  Anything can happen anywhere. Don’t take chances. Implement your strategy and engage it with discipline. Be smart. Be safe and stay healthy!!



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