Our kids will always be our kids, no matter how old they are. Every mother or father recognizes that feeling well. When they fly off to college, it can be a terrifying time for a parent. For the first time, our children are striking out on their own and they are no longer under our charge full time. For parents, the biggest concern when our child heads to college – whether it be just down the street or across the state – “How can my child stay safe in college?”
Especially in recent times, there is constantly a risk of a violent incident taking place. What we can do is prepare ourselves, and make sure our kid is aware and ready as well.
The best way to do that is to understand the prospective college’s plan for safety improvement. Familiarize yourself with what’s in place already and what are the plans for the future. Each school may have unique plans and be at different stages of developing their safety systems. These are things you can assess before sending your child away.
Does the school have metal detectors or bulletproof windows? Do they have law enforcement officers assigned? Research is a great idea.
No matter where the school’s safety measures sit, there are several steps you may take as an extra precaution.
- Download the College’s App
Sometimes the easiest way to get info about a school’s safety plan is straight from the horse’s mouth. The college’s website can provide students with a ton of material before they even leave home.
Not every college’s app is the same, but generally, you can get a good sense. Many of them show a lot of basic information like schedules, shuttle service, and other things. Other apps can be more specialized, focusing on admissions or campus events.
Most college apps these days include safety alert systems and they can send notifications to your phone during an incident. Make sure you also receive these notifications as it is a great way to stay aware of everything going on at your child’s new home away from home.
- Get Acquainted with the Surroundings
Virtually every college has some sort of orientation that helps your student learn the campus and where to go for certain things. This is a fantastic way to get a basic outline of the campus layout and set the foundation for student’s mental awareness of where things are.
However, this is a general overview only, and it’s always a smart idea for your student to explore the campus on his or her own before classes begin. After all, the first weeks of college can be hectic for all freshmen, so it’s good to get oriented before it all begins.
Your kid should know the campus and its surrounding areas by heart, in case they are in a situation with no cellphone or map. You can take a walk around the area together and make sure they take note of surveillance cameras or emergency blue light phones that will allow them to quickly call campus security.
In addition, it doesn’t hurt to research where any past crimes may have been reported on the campus, so your child can be aware of potentially dangerous areas.
- Understand the Emergency Procedure
Being prepared is the key to success in any situation. If the emergency comes up, it’s good to know where to go and what to do. A great idea is to make sure your child knows this information ahead of time.
It’s not about panicking pre-emptively, it’s about doing what you can to reduce panic and chaos.
This plays into the ideas behind mass notification systems from a college website app. Researching it ahead of time to know how it works is key. But there may be other procedures. Many campuses list contact numbers and hotlines for quick and easy reporting in a dangerous situation.
Another useful thing to do as part of your own emergency procedure is to make sure that your child’s contact information is up to date.
If there is a mass texting system available, it’s imperative they list any cell number changes.
- Keeping Their Belongings Safe
Dorm living is such a communal way to live. This is a fun and important aspect of your kid’s college socialization. They’ll get to know a lot of great people this way, but it has its risks.
The most common type of crime committed on a college campus is theft.
With the number of people wandering around a college dorm hallway, it’s easy for stuff to go missing even without kids noticing. Anything can go missing – electronics, jewelry, even textbooks, which we all know are not cheap.
To protect themselves from theft, dorm insurance is a thing to consider. But to prevent this from occurring in the first place, stress to your child how important it is to always keep their key card safe. Many dorms do not use traditional lock and keys anymore and now opt for key cards like those found in a hotel. These are more secure as long as your child keeps careful track of their card.
In addition, you might invest in a small camera to keep tabs on your child’s valuable items.
- Never Walk Alone
Many colleges offer a lot of their classes in the late afternoons or evenings that will have your kid getting out of class after dark. It’s important to be extra prepared for these situations as well.
If your child gets out of class at the same time as a friend, it’s a great situation to use the “buddy system”. They can accompany each other back to their respective dorms. However, if there is no friend getting out of a nearby class, many colleges will offer a phone number that your student can call to arrange a security officer escort them home.
Make sure your child knows these options and they keep all relevant phone numbers saved.
Taking other precautions to stay safe in college, can be beneficial in these moments of solitude. Let your child carry pepper spray. Maybe even have them learn basic self-defense. But whenever possible, the most foolproof way for your child to stay safe walking home from class is to have a companion.
College is supposed to be a time when your child will have fun and learn important lessons to help them through their lives and careers. When you know they are safe, you get to enjoy the empty nest, too.
We don’t want to scare them, of course. However, it’s important to discuss some basic precautions to make sure their college experience is everything it’s supposed to be.
It’s all about being prepared and learning ways to stay safe in college.
And with a lot of technology that we have today, your child is more likely to stay safe than ever.
What tips would you add for current and future college students on how to stay safe in college?
About the Author:
Michelle is a creative writer from Wisconsin. Always interested in ways which can help individuals reach full potential in life, she loves producing stories on productivity, family life, and health. Outside her keyboard, she enjoys rollerblading, spinning classes and slow-paced walks with her boyfriend. She loves to hang out on Twitter.