Safety on campus should not be overlooked. Despite what you might think, college campuses often attract crime. No need to worry, though. We'll tell you what you need to know to keep safe and avoid being the victim of crime. Here are the topics we'll cover.
- General tips on crime prevention
- Some of the most common campus crimes
- What are sex crimes
- Preventing sex crimes
- Be aware, keep smart and stay safe
- Precautions you can take
- What to do if you are the victim of crime
You can make a thief's job significantly more difficult by obeying these guidelines: Lock your bike where there's heavy foot traffic. Always use a kryptonite-type lock. If you set down your purse or backpack, know where it is at all times. Never leave your belongings unattended.
Always keep the door to your apartment or dorm room locked. Dead bolts and other such safety lock devices provide added protection. Never let strangers inside your home. Do not leave spare keys under the door mat or in other obvious hiding places. Inscribe items of value with your driver's license number.
Park in well-lighted areas close to foot traffic. Lock all doors and roll up windows when exiting your car and again after you enter your car. Never leave valuables in plain sight. Have your keys in hand when returning to your car at night and walk with someone if possible. If carjacked, surrender your vehicle immediately.
This one tops the list. Bicycles, backpacks, purses, and wallets are among the campus thief's favorite items to steal. Fortunately, you can protect your property by taking a few simple precautions.
Breaking into an apartment or dorm room to steal property is less common than straight theft. Still, burglary comprises a sizable chunk of campus crime.
Physical assault, one person inflicting bodily injury on another, is the least frequent of common campus crime. But statistics on sexual assault, including rape and acquaintance rape, are hard to interpret since these crimes go largely unreported. This suggests sexual assault is more frequent than police reports show.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity forced upon one person by another. Many victims fail to report sexual assault because they are not sure an "assault" has actually taken place, or they feel they are to blame. "No" means "No." If a person won't take "No" for an answer then sexual assault has occurred.
Sexual harassment differs from sexual assault in that no one is physically abused. Depending on the circumstances, examples of harassment include: repeated and unwanted romantic advances, discussions of a sexual nature, abusive language aimed at a particular sex, the telling of lewd jokes, unwanted touching. You do not need to put up with anything that makes you uncomfortable.
The overwhelming majority of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Sexual abuse is never the victim's fault. But you can take steps to avoid being victimized. Clearly communicate what you want and don't want. Set your limits before you go on a date. Be aware of signals you may be sending.
If you have questions
If you think you may be the victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment but are unsure, talk to a counselor who deals with such cases. Your campus medical facility or local hospital has trained professionals on staff who can help you understand what has happened.
Defuse a bad situation
If you find yourself in a situation where there is potential for sexual assault, you can use several tactics to dissuade your attacker:
Tell your attacker he is committing sexual harassment or sexual assault.
In more intense situations you should:
- Scream and draw attention to yourself
- Yell "No!" or "Stop!" or even "Fire!"
- Run away if possible
- Fight back using any means at your disposal
This is perhaps your best protection against crime. Follow these basic rules: Don't walk alone at night and stick to well-lighted streets. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are being followed, walk fast to a populated area. Don't give your phone number or address to strangers. Avoid dangerous parts of town.
Prevent sexual assault
In addition to exercising the common sense rules mentioned above, you should always exercise caution when drinking. In most cases of sexual assault, especially acquaintance rape, drugs and/or alcohol were used by one or both people involved. If you drink, drink responsibly.
Contact your local police department to locate high crime areas on campus and in town. Learn what crimes are most prevalent in your neighborhood. You'll know what precautions to take once you've identified the most prevalent types of crime and where they occur.
Report suspicious behavior
Call the police if you suspect someone is committing or attempting to commit a crime. Your involvement makes a safer environment for everyone. Give the police a good description of the suspect. Do not try apprehending the person yourself.
Many college campuses offer training in self-defense through the gymnasium or police department for a small fee. Mace and pepper spray training may also be available. Inquire at your campus police headquarters or the city police department. Private self-defense instruction is also available in most cities.
Make use of campus safety services
With a quick call to your campus police department or local police station, you can find out what safety resources are available to you. The police department usually offers some kind of instruction in crime prevention. And many colleges offer night walk and night shuttle services.
Report the crime immediately
If the police aren't aware of the crime, there's nothing they can do about it. Be prepared to tell the police: what happened exactly, where the crime happened, when it happened, who you are and where you're calling from. Do not disturb any evidence at the crime scene while waiting for police to arrive.
Reporting sexual assault
Tell someone you trust what has happened. Whether you report sexual assault to the police or not, you should seek medical treatment and counseling immediately. Do not bathe, change clothes, or otherwise destroy evidence before seeing a doctor. Your physician will be able to refer you to a counselor.
At the end of each school year in May, most people are looking forward to a well deserved and relaxing vacation away from school. Here are some helpful safety tips to consider:
- During Move Out: If you are moving out of a residence hall, do not leave your valuables sitting on the sidewalk or by your vehicle. Either have someone watch your valuables or lock them in your vehicle. It only takes a few seconds for someone steal your property. If possible, do not load your vehicle until the day you intend to leave. Vehicles that are loaded and left overnight are often targeted by car burglars.
- Leaving Your Residence Hall, Apartment, or Home: If you have roommates - COMMUNICATE WITH THEM! The last person to leave should make sure that all windows are properly secured. All window shades and curtains should be drawn closed to prevent a burglar from "window shopping" in your apartment or home. Make sure all exterior doors are properly closed and secured. All exterior doors should have dead bolt locks with a one inch throw bar.
- A programmable light timer is very useful. These can be found at a hardware or appliance store. They are relatively inexpensive (approximately $10 - $15) and easy to operate. Simply adjust the timer, plug a lamp into the timer, and plug the entire timer into a electrical outlet. Your lamp will automatically turn on and off at predetermined times. It gives the appearance that you are home.
- Identify all valuable personal property by marking or engraving your driver's license number on the property. Examples would be stereos, computers, printers, cameras, televisions, and VCRs.
- If something is stolen, the police need to be able to identify the property. Any police officer in the United States can run a driver's license number. An example would be - TN 12345678. (Be sure and designate which state your license is from) There are products on the market which enable a person to mark their property without having to engrave into the property. This would be used on items such as antiques, pictures, or band instruments.
- If you are a student and plan to visit your parents, take all your valuable property with you, including expensive jewelry. While traveling, lock them in the trunk of your vehicle or cover them up in the back seat.
- If you live in a residence hall and own a bicycle, please take it home with you during the summer as you would with any other valuable property.
- If you have an answering machine, do not record, "I'm not home" or "We're gone for the summer." Record a message which will leave doubt in someone's mind if you are home or not. An example would be, "We can't come to the phone right now, simply leave your name and phone number and we'll get back with you."
- Let a trusted neighbor know exactly where you are going and when you plan on coming back. Let the neighbor watch after your apartment or home.
- Temporarily cancel your newspaper if you plan to be away. Also, you might consider having the Post Office forward your mail to your summer address.
- Take all pets with you or allow a trustworthy neighbor to properly look after the pets.
- Make sure your vehicle is "road worthy." Inspect all belts, tire inflation, fluids, and maintenance items. If you are unsure, ask a professional mechanic to check your vehicle.
- Keep an eye on the gauges! If your oil pressure or water temperature light comes on, pull into a service station or other nearby location as quickly and safety as possible.
- A portable or cellular telephone is great to have while on the road. If your vehicle breaks down or a roadside emergency occurs, you will be able to notify the proper authorities.
- Some people choose to carry pepper spray as a means of personal protection. If you choose to carry it, be sure and keep it in a handy location. If it dangles from the end of your keys, it will do you no good if the keys are in the ignition.
- Before you leave on a trip, let someone know exactly when you are leaving, the route you plan on taking, and the time you expect to arrive.
- If you stop at a roadside convenience store for a short break, DO NOT leave the car running. Take your keys with you while you go inside the store. Also, lock all doors. It only takes a thief a few seconds to steal your car or property inside the car.
- There are products on the market which will enable you to temporarily fix a flat tire. (Commonly called, "Fix-A-Flat") You may be in a position where you cannot change a flat tire. These products come in a pressurized canister with a small nozzle which you connect to the tire's valve stem. It will shoot a chemical inside the tire which will temporarily seal the tire. At the same time, it will inflate your tire. This is only a temporary solution. Some people have said that they have traveled approximately sixty miles before the tire went flat again. As soon as possible, have the punctured tire fixed properly.
- TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS! Allow yourself enough time in your traveling schedule to rest and stretch.
While On Vacation
- Keep your wits about you! The best way to do this is to limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol will dull your senses, reflexes, and judgment.
- Beware of con-artists! Con-artists love to prey on young college students. Beware of a stranger who wants to be "your friend."
- Travel with a friend. There's "safety in numbers."
- Let someone know where you are going! Also, give them an emergency contact number and the time you expect to arrive and leave.
- Leave all expensive jewelry at a secured location, such as your parent's home.
CAUTION!!! An illegal drug called Rohypnol is increasingly being used on college campuses and among young adults. Street names include Roachies, Roches, Rocha, Rophies, Roofies, Ruffies, or Ropes. Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless drug that causes sedation or euphoria in approximately 15 minutes. The drug is from the same family as Valium, but is approximately 10 times more potent. Rohypnol is manufactured in sixteen countries including Mexico, but it is illegal in the United States. The tablets manufactured in Mexico are round, white, and slightly smaller than an aspirin.
People under the influence seem to be awake and functioning, but may not remember what they did some of the time they were active. Because of the "amnesia" effect and the blackout period, the drug is being used for date rape situations. A rapist will simply drop the pill into a female's drink.
Side effects include drowsiness, headaches, memory impairment, dizziness, decreased blood pressure, visual disturbances, and urinary retention. A person intoxicated by Rohypnol will appear as someone intoxicated by alcohol.
- Rohypnol is illegal in the United States. Mere possession can get a person incarcerated.
- Rohypnol does have severe side effects.
- If you are female and go out on a date, do not leave your drink unattended. Either take the drink with you or order a new one.