According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, the number of criminal offenses reported at U.S. campuses is down nearly 41% compared to 10 years ago. Over that same period, the number of student disciplinary actions has increased by nearly 20%1 … suggesting schools are doing more than ever to effectively police their campuses.
While campus security personnel and local police are doing everything in their power to keep your campus as safe as possible, the first line of defense is YOU. Here are a few things you can do to take control of your safety.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Experts agree: It’s extremely important to familiarize yourself with your campus as quickly as you can. Identify the most direct and well-lighted paths to all the places you need to go. Know the location of campus security offices and call boxes. Figure out if there are any parts of campus that are best to avoid.
As you navigate around campus, don’t let your tech dull your senses. As the University of Illinois Police Department reminds us, “Listening to music or using your phone can distract you from people or vehicles around you.”2
Realize That Social Media Can Make You More Vulnerable
These days, criminals can (and do) use social media to scout out and locate potential victims. So don’t be “that person” who
- “Instabrags” pictures of all the great gear he’s brought to campus
- Posts drunken or “sexy” selfies.
- Lets the world know her every move by checking in everywhere she goes.
Be smart with how and when you use your social media. Be aware of the different privacy settings and what they mean. Don’t post specific, personal information a criminal might use to identify you.
Take Stalking Seriously
“The rates of stalking on college campuses are higher than in the general population,” says Michelle Garcia, director of National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center.3
Stalking is more than just a nuisance. It’s a serious crime. If you or someone you know is the target of attention that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, take action. Check out this important guide4 from The National Center for Victims of Crime. It includes a list of ways to tell if you’re being stalked, and what to do to if you are a victim.
Use Your Friends
Let your friends and roommates know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Tell them face-to-face if you can. Call or text if you need to. Just don’t go broadcasting the information on the internet.
Several free apps such as Watch Over Me, bSafe, and Red Panic Button let you alert chosen friends and families when you feel like you may be in danger. Some will even record audio and video you can present to law enforcement. Take a few moments to browse the personal safety apps available for your phone before you head off to campus.
Keep An Inventory of All Your Property
Maintain a log of the serial numbers and other identifying features of the gear you bring to school. (Keep it in multiple places in case your laptop or phone are among the things stolen). This includes stuff you keep in your room as well as your car. That way if a robbery occurs, you can quickly provide information to police (and your insurance company if you have renters or personal property coverage.)
Know the Plan
Each college and university have an emergency communications plan in place – using some combination of text alerts, emails, campus signage and even sirens. Check with your school to see what you need to do to make sure you get these important updates.
Stay Smart… and Sober
A word to the wise: Over 95% of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both, according to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence5 It’s also the cause of more than 30% of all academic problems.6 So be responsible … and be safe.
When you’re away from home, it really helps to have someone to depend on in case something goes wrong. Student Life Assistance is the 24/7/365 hotline available exclusively to Allianz Tuition Insurance policyholders for immediate help in the event of illness, injury or other emergencies.