Pretty soon millions of e will be leaving home to enjoy the college experience; for some of you, it will be for the first time. I can still remember my freshman year, thrilled and scared all at the same time. It was much more than that week at summer camp. It was freedom for parents, and taking responsible for so many things. These are probably your thoughts…
So now you are a college student, and on your way to perhaps becoming a terrific adult. You are probably pretty intelligent; otherwise you would not be here. You have at least the desire to explore new ideas, new people, new cultures, and a new direction in your life. You are either looking for to find what you are going to make of your life or you may already have a career in mind, and are looking to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in that field. Either way, you are probably success oriented and goal directed.
You are probably excite and/or scared about being away from home and watchful parents for an extended period of time for first time in your life. While you are learning to master your independence and enjoying the college with is social and intellectual challenges there is one other thing you need to be mindful of: CRIME
Unfortunately, just like the real world, a college campus does have a criminal element. Some of these are students, some of these are staff, and some of these are the townies who you may encounter either on or off campus.
It can be argued that very few of us go around in the expectation of imminent danger, but the fact is most of us think we are pretty safe no matter where we are. Some students feel they are in a protected shell on campus, and nothing bad can happen there.
Unfortunately, the news is a constant reminder that criminals, or just insane elements exist in our society. On Aug. 1, 1966, college campuses changed forever. They were no longer idyllic places where students read literature, and enamored members of the opposite sex. Now they were places where things could go terribly wrong. A person with a mind and the means to kill could do so, and no one would be prepared to handle the situation. The murder of 16 people and wounding of 31 more by UT student Charles Whitman shooting from atop the Tower changed college campuses. Wither it’s UT, Virginia Tech, Penn State the message is clear. Bad things do happen, anywhere.
Most college crimes are not that violent, but they can happen. They typical college crimes are theft, robbery, substance abuse, sex offenses, assault, grand theft auto, hazing, arson, hacking, bullying, scams, or even sexual exploitation
Have a Great Defense
The great news is that most college campuses take the safety of their students very seriously. Security counter measures are constantly being revised to keep you safe. Here are some ways you can do to stay safe.
Trust Your Instincts – this is always my number one tip. If you think you are being followed, either on foot or by car, do not ignore the thought. Go to a safe environment. If you feel you are in immediate danger, run, scream, honk your horn, flash your lights – make a scene. Such action could deter a possible attacker from following through with their plans.
- Get Educated –You campus police offers lots of workshops and classes to teach you how to be safe. Some participate in ProjectID which will mark your property so that it can be identified later if stolen. Some campuses offer a RAD class to teach young ladies self-defense techniques for free.
Avoid walking on campus by yourself, especially at night : The saying, there is safety in numbers is true. It’s easy to become so comfortable on campus that you let your guard down, but bringing a friend (or multiple friends) along with you when you’re going to the gym or the library is always a smart idea. See if your campus has a escort service to walk young ladies across campus. You may feel embarrassed, but it’s such a smart idea. And besides, who wouldn’t want a free ride?!
Always go somewhere at night with a friend. Male or female, big or small, safe neighborhood or not, this is always a good idea.
- Keep Your Door Locked -Make sure the door to your residence hall is locked at all times. You wouldn’t just leave the front door to your house open, would you? Don’t let anyone into your hall that you don’t know. Not letting someone in doesn’t make you look like a jerk. It makes you look like a good neighbor and, if the person is supposed to be in your hall, they’ll be grateful for it. Make sure your room door is locked at all times. Yes, this even means when you run down the hall to borrow a book or hop in the shower. Keep your windows locked. Don’t be so focused on locking your door that you forget to check the windows, too.
Do Not Open Your Door to Strangers - Once you open your door, it is easy to get access. Do not open your door to strangers without checking credentials. Contact the office who sent the visitor for verification of their purpose. For example, call the apartment office for verification if a repairperson requests entrance into your apartment. If someone asks to use your phone, offer to make the call while the stranger waits outside the door. Do not open your door to see credentials, using instead the peephole. If your door does not have one, request that a fisheye peephole be installed.
Be careful with your keys. Also, if you lose them, don’t depend on your roommate to keep letting you in, thinking that your keys will just “pop up.” Pay the fine and get a new set.
Get a locking device for your laptop. This may be a physical laptop lock or some kind of electronic tracking or locking device. Your laptop may come with some type of tracker, that you can enable. You may even get a Personal Alarm to set up when you are in the library.
Never Give a Thief a Chance -Watch your stuff in the library, or your dorm room, or lounge. You may need to take a quick run to the vending machines to clear your mind . . . just as someone happens to walk by and see your MP3 Player, Tablet, and laptop unattended.
- A Better use for a Cell Phone -Put emergency numbers including campus security in your cell phone. If your wallet is stolen, will you know what phone number to call to cancel your credit/debit cards? Put important phone numbers in your cell so that you can call the moment you notice something is missing. The last thing you want is someone cashing in on the money you’ve been budgeting for the rest of the semester.
Tell a Friend - Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Heading to a club downtown? Going out on a date? There’s no need to spill all the intimate details, but do let someone (a friend, a roommate, etc.) know where you’re going and what time you expect to get back. Just in case you come up missing- Remember all those spring break stories.
Stay Alert -Pay attention to what is going on around you and avoid blocking sounds or using distracting devices such as cell phones or MP3 player. Your ears and eyes are your best defense to being taken by surprise.
- Keeping Personal Information Personal -Avoid displaying personal information on mailboxes, key chains, book bags, apartment doors, etc. Get in the habit of using your first initial and last name. Leave a short, non-descript, computerized voice message on your answer machine. The less information a caller can learn from your message, the better.
- Get Background Information – If you plan to meet a stranger, for example for a date or a study partner for the first time, meet in a public place like the library or student center. Ask questions before meeting them – such as what activities they are involved in, who their professors are and where they live. Communicate this information to a friend or roommate.
- Carry Pepper Spray – I can’t stress just how necessary had having something in your hand and knowing how to use it so that it can help protect you. I recommend pepper spray that contains UV Dye that allows the sprayed person to be easily identified.
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