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.
RAINN, (Rape, Abuse and 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. They also report that a female college student is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as robbed. Please also bear in mind that 4 out of 5 students who were sexually assaulted do not report.
Enhancing your daughter’s campus safety, security, and survival is crucial. The best way to do this is to educate and empower her with strategies (or “hacks”) she can use every day.
Although there is no 100% guaranteed blueprint for keeping our daughters safe, there are many empowering, yet simple, precautions we can teach them.
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.
These are 3 simple – but highly effective – strategies to enhance your daughter’s personal safety both on and off campus:
1. Headphones Are Off; Earbuds Are Put Away.
That means even if I can’t see you, I WILL HEAR YOU. 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 is the most effective alert to when we’re 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. (Beverage)
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 dormitories. 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, install 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, educate her with these and other tips for personal safety and security, and empower her for life.
— Jennifer Kaminer, 28 Feb 2017
Related: The Clery Act and why you need to know.
Stalking: Resource from John Carroll University