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05 Jan Five Tips for Safety in School

The thought of going to college is exciting. While there is a lot of learning to do, many aspiring college students are looking forward to the social aspects of campus life. Some of the happenings that make college a blast can put students at risk for injury or being the victim of a crime. Safety in school is essential to success. Five common risks to safety in school include: traveling alone, binge drinking, leaving dorm doors unlocked, disregard for password security, and failing to get enough sleep. Putting safety in school at the forefront can mean better grades, earlier or on-time graduation, a clearer path to a job, and a lot less unnecessary physical and financial pain and suffering. While there are some things schools mandate for student safety like vaccinations for hepatitis and meningitis, and of course accidents do happen, safety on a day-to-day basis is in large part up to the student.

No, not a six-pack, but a pack of trusted friends. College students often fall victim to crimes, including rape, robbery, and assault simply because they walk alone, especially at night. A college campus that is typically peaceful may be the perfect place for a criminal to attack. Never take safety in school for granted. When walking, especially during the evening, travel with a pack of friends or classmates. If this is not possible, most campuses have escort programs to encourage safety in school. There are typically telephone kiosks where you can call a campus cop who will make sure you get to the dorm safely.

You are short on cash, everyone is ready to hit the streets after the big game. No problem, you’ll just jog down to the local ATM machine and meet your friends later. Using an ATM machine alone at night is like wearing a “rob me” T-shirt. The best advice for those concerned about safety in school is to get your cash during the daylight hours, or ask a couple of friends to go with you if you absolutely must get money after dark whether walking or driving.

Frat parties, block parties, and keg parties have a common denominator–the alcohol flows freely. College students of all ages fall prey to binge drinking (drinking 4-5 drinks in a short period), and some don’t live to sleep it off because they simply drink themselves to death. If you are going to indulge even a little, find that designated driver. Most party hosts have one. But the designated driver won’t be looking over your shoulder. Binge drinking can lead to all sorts of heartaches, not to mention headaches the next day. Getting drunk can result in a student having unintentional and unprotected sex, which leads to a whole host of problems including regret, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control report that “1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted.” [1] In most states, it is illegal for students under 21 to drink. So look out for yourself. There are already enough videos of wasted students on the internet. And, imagine your surprise if a future employer confronts you with such a video at a job interview. Limit yourself, or grab a cup of ginger ale.

Your dorm or apartment might seem like a safe place, but leaving the door unlocked, especially at night, is like hanging an “open for business” sign on your door! Safety in school requires that you lock your doors. Leaving your door unlocked can result in your smartphone, computer, and other valuables being taken. Aside from their street value, the contents are easy pickings for identity thieves. Leaving a door unlocked could also put you at risk for being a victim of assault. This includes locking your car doors! Especially for women, a good habit is to look inside the vehicle for someone hiding before you unlock it.

Just like in the airport, you never want to leave your belongings alone. They can get snatched up in an instant. With so many things to distract your attention, pickpockets are active on college campuses, too. But, you also need to keep your passwords safe. Your parents may not be looking over your shoulder while you are at school, but a thief may be. Be mindful of who can see your computer screen and the keypads you use to enter PINs.

Getting enough sleep is a factor for safety in school. According to the Centers for Disease Control [1], when college students don’t get enough sleep, they do poorly in classes, are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents, may suffer from depression and have trouble with relationships.

These are just some thoughts to get you thinking about safety in school. Like your education, for example, whether you decide to get up and go to classes, safety in school is your decision to a great extent. You have to look out for yourself. You wouldn’t want your parents or the college police to be hovering over you. College is about learning the tools to become independent. Safety only gets more complicated after you graduate.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/Features/CollegeHealth/

Timothy Steven Thomas

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