Many college students take it for granted that college is entirely safe. Their major concern is making the best of college. So they take no precaution to protect themselves from security risks that often affect college students. Well, I’ve got news for you. If you fail to protect yourself from campus crimes, your college journey could become your worst nightmare.
The fact is that many colleges are open to the public. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for criminals to gain entry to college campuses and attack students. Moreover, outsiders are not the only criminals to watch, you have to be careful of your fellow college students too.
There are many types of crimes on college campuses in the U.S. that you should be aware of. These include: blackmail, alcohol abuse, theft of laptops and smart devices, sexual crimes and drug crimes. Hence, it is in your best interest to protect yourself on campus by following these top 10 tips for staying safe on campus.
1. Learn about the security issues that affect your college and surrounding areas
No matter how comfortable and safe a place appears to be, you should be ready to defend yourself against a sudden criminal attack. Hence, it is your duty to find out about common security threats that often affect college students on your campus and the surrounding areas. Knowing about these common security issues can help you to be more prepared to deal with them.
For instance, if you know that laptops and smart devices are stolen a lot. Then you will be extra careful in the way you travel with your devices and store them. Or if you know that people are more vulnerable to criminal attacks at certain locations and times on campus. Then you will be more careful about where you go and when you go to certain locations on campus.
It is not enough to know the security risks that affect students on campus. You have to find out about the systems and channels that are available to help students when they are in trouble? What’s the easiest way to contact campus security? Are there alarm systems or safe houses conveniently located on campus. Do security officers patrol the campus 24/7?
Remember as well that security risks are not just related to criminals but could result from natural disasters or incidents on campus. Make sure that you know the correct procedures to follow if there is a fire, hurricane, earthquake or any other hazard.
2. Get to know the key locations on Campus
Depending on how big your college campus is, it might be too difficult to know the entire campus. Hence, make sure that you are familiar with the key areas that you have to visit on campus.
Getting to know how to get around on your campus in your first year can be very challenging. Hence, you should use an app or walk in groups when you travel around on campus. Even if you somehow get lost, do not make it obvious that you don’t know where to go, especially if there’s no one you can trust around. Keep moving until you find a familiar face, place or a campus security officer.
3. Protect your Belongings
It doesn’t matter whether you struggled to afford the things you bought for college. Facing a robbery or losing items that are extremely sentimental or contain very sensitive information can be quite traumatic.
Hence, it is in your best interest to invest in a backpack with good safety features for travelling with valuable items. Additionally, make sure that you add extra security features to track your devices and prevent criminals from unlocking them.
Make sure not to be too distracted by your smartphone when travelling around on campus. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for stalkers and people following you. Do not use or leave your devices in unsafe locations. That might just be your invitation for criminals to rob you.
4. Lock your windows and doors properly
Never leave the windows and doors of your cars and dorm unlocked. Even if you are in a hurry, make sure that you lock up properly. Failing to lock up properly might leave an easy entry for burglars to gain access to your property. Additionally, someone could enter your car or dorm and damage your property. They could also set dangerous traps for you or wait for your return to harm you.
Avoid leaving valuable items in areas that criminals can see them. Secure them in less obvious places such as drawers or under the seat of your car. Criminals will be more tempted to break in your car or dorm when they see valuable items lurking around.
5. Be extra vigilant at night
Criminals thrive more at night as there is less traffic and less lighting. You must be aware of these limitations that make you more susceptible to criminal activities. If you have to travel at night, travel in groups or call your campus security for a ride.
If you have no choice but to travel alone, make sure that you have enough light to get around. And beware of the people lurking around you. If you feel that you are being followed, go to the nearest public place and hollow for help. You can also invest in a safety app. That way you can easily alert the police if you are in danger.
6. Be careful with your online activities.
It is so easy nowadays for predators to target you through your online activities. Online activities include the use of social media and other internet sites. Make sure that you use strong passwords and authentication questions to protect your information. This will make it difficult for hackers to steal your information.
Additionally, be careful who you connect with on social media. You shouldn’t be too ready to tell new connections where you live and other sensitive details. You should also avoid meeting them in private locations or driving with them by yourself. Instead, meet in public places and take your friends with you if possible.
Be careful what you post on social media. It is nice to show off where you are especially when you are having fun. But you never know when a predator is using this information to track you and target you. Hence, limit posting too much personal information on social media that can help predators to target you.
Cyberbullying has also become a prevalent issue online. You need to be very careful with how you approach social media and what you post online. If you are not sure how to address this issue yet, check out this comprehensive guide to cyberbullying.
7. Avoid Peer Pressure
It’s great to make new friends. That will help you to feel more comfortable in college. The saying is true that “Good friends are better than pocket money.” But make sure your friends are “Good.”
Good friends would never pressure you to something that could get you in trouble. Hence, do not just go with the flow so you can fit in with the crowd.
You know right from wrong so never forget to follow your instincts. If you have friends that try to encourage you to break the rules all the time. Then you need new friends.
Never let your friends pressure you into getting drunk or hanging out in unsafe areas. Think about your safety first at all times.
8. Always be aware of your surroundings
It’s nice to hang out and have a little fun. But make sure that you stay alert while having fun. That doesn’t mean that you should worry so much that something bad is going to happen, that you can’t enjoy yourself. What I mean is, just take note of things that seem suspicious. For instance, you can notice if someone is stalking you. You can also notice that someone is doing drugs or carrying weapons. Noticing those things could help you to avoid those people. Or it could help you to secretly alert the security to deal with these threats.
Remember a drunk person cannot be very alert. So avoid getting so drunk that someone could just take you away and do whatever they want to you. Some students get so drunk that they can’t even remember what happened to them. Don’t be one of those students.
Being alert also means that you should avoid using earphones or texting while travelling on campus. Even if you put the earphones in, make sure that you can hear what is happening around you. Glance around you every now and again to make sure you are not being followed.
9. Learn Self Defense
Well you never know when you have absolutely no choice but to defend yourself. You might have taken every precaution possible to be safe. But you still end up in an unfavorable situation. Don’t just give in to criminals.
Try to defend yourself. There are basic self defense moves that you can learn online. Some colleges also offer self defense lessons. You could also do some research to find very good self defense instructors that could train you. You might surprise yourself when you disarm an attacker or teach them a lesson, not to pick on you.
It is also smart to travel with pepper sprays and gels. These will help to slow down criminals that try to attack you. All you need to do is aim for their eyes and then run as fast as you can to the nearest public space. And holler for help as loud as you can.
10. Have emergency contacts on call
Having emergency contacts on speed dial is a good way to get help fast. As soon as you find yourself in trouble or even suspect that trouble is following you, get help. Your emergency contacts should include campus security, the police and family members nearby.
Of course your phone must be charged for you to use it. So make sure that when you travel around campus that your phone has enough charge. It would really be terrible to be trouble and not be able to contact anyone for help. So make sure that your phone is always charged when you hit the road.
I hope that you never have to face any security issues on campus. I hope that you have the most memorable college experiences. But if you ever need help staying safe on campus, these tips can help you.