College safety has been weighing heavily on my mind the past few weeks. My daughter moves into the dorms tomorrow. A campus with over 50,000 students.
Have I taught her everything she needs to know to be safe?
We made sure she got good grades, did well on the ACT, took the college tours. We helped complete the applications so she’d get accepted into the college of her dreams. We celebrated when the acceptance letter came.
We made sure she got all the right dorm supplies and that she knows her way around campus. She knows how to do her own laundry. She has pepper spray, a meal card, and a bus pass. It’s almost move in time. She is an adult now and she’s ready and well prepared for college life.
Or is she?
There is a dark side of college that people don’t like to think about — alcohol and sexual assault.
Research posted on http://collegedrinkingprevention.gov estimates that each year:
1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
Further, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violations organization, states that 11.2% of women ages 18-24 are at an elevated risk for sexual assault. RAINN also notes the assaults are most prevalent in college. Twenty percent of female victims do not report the incident.
Often it’s because they had been drinking and felt partially responsible.
As a parent, we would like to believe our kids won’t be around drugs and alcohol or want to experiment. Of course they will “just say no” because that’s what we taught them, right? That would be great, but the reality is that they will be surrounded by it and being naiive to it, won’t help them make good decisions.
In fact, a lack of knowledge can be deadly.
I have a friend who lost a nephew, due to consuming too many shots. He had no idea how much damage a few small shot glasses could do. He was never told and didn’t know what to do when faced with the situation.
A November 18, 2015, article posted in the US News states that 1 in every 6 female college freshmen are raped during their first year of college while being too drunk to fend off their attacker.
There is an increased risk during the first few months. College is often the first taste of freedom — no curfews, no parents, an increase of social opportunities, no one to check in or stop them.
It’s exciting. A time of growing up and finding yourself. New students are more likely to have their guard down because it feels safe. However, without some street smarts, your daughter could become prey.
Top 11 Street Smarts for College Safety
Find your crew — 4-5+ girls. Travel in a pack. Always keep an eye on each other.
Adopt a “no man left behind” policy. If five go into a party, five come out (even if they think they want to stay.) Make this deal before heading out. If someone won’t comply with this, don’t have them in your crew. You need to know someone has your back, just as you will have theirs.
There’s nothing wrong with filling the red solo cup with water.
There’s nothing wrong with being the designated driver.
Stay away from shots, despite pressure. (It’s okay to say you don’t “do shots” because of a bad experience if the pressure gets too heavy.) Keep an eye on your possee make sure they aren’t sucked in.
Get your own drink and never leave a cup unattended.
Understand that even nice boys will want you to drink too much alcohol. Trust no one with your drink.
Don’t get outnumbered (more guys than girls).
Don’t walk on trails or at night alone.
If you call an Uber, verify the car that pulls up is actually the one scheduled.
There’s plenty to do on campus that doesn’t involve alcohol. Get involved in as many clubs as you can. You can have a good time without all the binge drinking. But, if you are ever in a tough situation call home, no questions asked.
For more information on sexual assault visit the US Office of Women’s Health.
Are you dropping kids off at college soon? Do you have these same concerns? What advice have you given?