As a father of two young adult daughters, I find myself preaching safety tips. I often receive the standard response of “Daaaad, we know that!” accompanied by the obligatory rolling of the eyes. With college fall semester upon us – much to their chagrin – they will endure my message yet again.
An array of valuable campus safety advice is available online, but from parent to parent, I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite go-to tips.
- Never walk alone at night. Always abide by the buddy system, so you’re not on your own.
- Don’t let cell phones, headphones or other technology interfere with awareness of your surroundings. If you’re plugged in, you’re unaware.
- Park in well-lighted areas. When returning to the parking area, approach your car, look around and look into the car. After you’re in the car, that’s not the time to make a call, text or go through your purse. Get in the car, lock the doors and leave.
- Stairwells are an ideal crime spot. Take the elevator.
- If you feel like you are in trouble, do not hold back. Run, scream, kick, bite – whatever it takes – to get to safety and draw the attention of anyone nearby.
- Campus life can give a false sense of security. Don’t get too relaxed in your dorm or apartment environment. Lock your doors and windows, especially when alone or sleeping.
- Carry the pepper spray that I bought you for your key chain!
- Let your friends know where you are going, who you are going with and when you should return.
- Most importantly, the uncomfortable reality is that most campus violence against women is not perpetrated by unknown attackers. Instead, it’s by people they have met and it primarily occurs in the supposed safety of indoors. Some key pointers:
- When out, keep together with friends and do not get separated. Do not leave with someone you have just met or do not know well.
- Only accept drinks from someone you trust. Never leave your drink unattended.
- Trust your instincts. If you’re somewhere or with someone that makes you feel uneasy, leave. Now.
It’s not just my daughters who receive my cautionary tales. My son will be a college first-year student this fall, and he will soon be receiving much of the same message.
I’m sure my kids are expecting another lecture from their conscientious father, and it’s quite possible I’ll receive their standard response again. That’s OK, though. I’m Dad. It’s my job. And I love it.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security site
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Not Alone: Together Against Sexual Assault page
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Dating Violence page