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Defending Yourself and Your Family: Safety Tips for the College Student

As a parent, it can be one of the hardest things to do – sending your son or daughter off to college. This can be especially hard if you read some of the staggering statistics on crimes committed against college students. What is even more concerning is the fact that so many crimes against college students go unreported. So how do you keep your college student safe?

In theory, everything you have already taught them since they were small should keep them safe. You’ve told them to be observant of their surroundings, how to park safely, and the slew of other tips you have given them along the way. However, many students are going off, and for whatever reason, they are both naïve and extremely unprepared for what they soon may face as a college student.

Here are just a few tips that will help keep your college student safe:

  • Whenever possible, go in a group or with at least one other person. It doesn’t matter if you are going to a social event or a study session – it is critical that you are not alone. There is truly safety in numbers.
  • Don’t go anywhere with someone you don’t know. This can be difficult as part of the whole college experience is meeting new people. However, there is a safe way to do this: get to know new people in groups, never one-on-one.
  • Always tell someone, like your roommate, where you are going and who you are going to be with. Also give them an estimated time of when you will be returning.

Additional things for your college student to think about:

Purses, Backpacks, & Wallets

Be cautious of what you are carrying and how you are carrying it. Think about if your backpack were stolen right now. Despite losing several hundred dollars in books, what else could you potentially be losing? How about your class schedule? This could potentially give someone your whereabouts each and every day. How about your address and/or phone number? Neither of these items are what you want a potential perpetrator to have in hand. Most college students would say that it is unavoidable to have some of this information in their backpack or purse – and that very well may be true – but what you do with the purse or backpack is something altogether different. Do you leave your backpack unattended? When you are in the mall or somewhere else, do you hold your purse securely or are you making it an easy target for a mugger? Are you carrying your wallet in your backpack, the easiest of all places for someone to lift your wallet without you even knowing about it? Just remember to be aware of these things and do your best to prevent any unnecessary risk where this is concerned.

Social Networks

Social Networks have grown in popularity exponentially over that past few years. This has created a huge market for a whole new set of “bad guys” out there. The one thing you always need to remember when dealing with people online is that bad people lie all the time. Don’t fall into a trap of revealing personal information about yourself just because a person “sounds nice.” Remember, you know nothing about that person on the other end of the computer other than what they are telling you. The 20 year old handsome college student could very well be a 45 year old stalker.

When you are on Social Networking sites, here are some do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t befriend someone that you don’t know.
  • Don’t agree to meet someone that you don’t know, even if it is at a public place.
  • Don’t ever give out your address or phone number. With that being said, don’t even give out details of where you live. With some clever questioning, it does not take long for a perpetrator to get the information they need to locate you. This would even include an email address, as most college students are given an email address from their college or university, which makes it very easy to find you.
  • Do lock down your personal settings as tight as you possibly can. Reveal information and photos to your “friends” only.

Headphones

When you are running, biking, or jogging, it is very tempting to put your earphones in and forget about everything else. However, by doing this you can be putting yourself into a scary predicament. You are eliminating one of your key senses in detecting danger – your hearing. That is why your hearing is so imperative. With you hearing you can detect footsteps behind you or someone approaching in another threatening manner.

Social Get-togethers

Never leave your drink unattended. Ever since the “date rape drug” Rohypnol hit the scene,  it has been a favorite of many perpetrators. It is a very discrete way to attack a person. A perpetrator simply puts the drug in someone’s glass when they aren’t looking, enabling them to take advantage at a later time.  This doesn’t just occur at parties where drugs and alcohol are present – this can occur at a quiet social get-together as well. It is imperative that your college student understands that perpetrators don’t wear signs around their necks advertising who they are. They look like everyday people and do their best to blend in.

One final thought to help you college student – if they get somewhere and they don’t feel comfortable, ask for an escort. Whether they are walking home from the library late at night or at one of the many activities present in a college lifestyle, encourage them to ask for help when needed. Nearly every campus has some sort of security system where they can ask a guard to escort them to where they need to go.

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