Every fall, as parents send their youngsters off to college, it is the most natural thing in the world to be concerned for their safety. We want to share tips that we have either written about in the past, to serve as reminders that the world we live in has its share of dangers. College freshmen are ready to “try their wings,” and that may mean doing some things that they haven’t done while living at home. They feel they must show their independence, although Mom and Dad are probably footing all the bills!
Party time is just around the corner! I’m not saying they all will do it, but some young people are ready to learn, not just about education, but also about “partying.” Here are some “sobering facts” that we want to discuss with you first. Think for a moment about how many missing young college students or other girls are being searched for right now. They may have been out for a jog, or they may have been with a group and left with some stranger. Warn your kids that their safety is foremost, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Other unpleasant factors to consider are:
- “Date Rape” – An unfortunate statistic is that 90 per cent of rapes occur between people who already knew each other and that approximately half of rapes happen on dates. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol reports that more than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have been victims of alcohol-related sexual assault. An illegal drug in the U.S. is Rohypnol, the “date rape drug” that can be slipped into a drink. It causes drowsiness, loss of coordination, dizziness and memory loss. Never take drinks from other people, and don’t leave your drink unattended! Don’t take the chance. Be sure when you go out to tell someone you trust the name of your date, destination, and planned time of return. Take your cell phone and money for a cab just in case.
- Stay with a group. – You are responsible for your own safety. Get acquainted with people you trust and feel comfortable with. If something doesn’t seem quite right with a new date, remove yourself from the situation. Usually your instincts tell you that you are taking a chance.
- Avoid excessive alcohol. You can have a good time without drinking so much that it alters your personality. You will like yourself tomorrow much better if you don’t overdo it the night before.
- Take a self-defense class. – Chances are you will have to take a gym class, so ask if there are self-defense classes. It could be the smartest thing you ever do. Think about carrying self-defense devices such as pepper sprays, tasers (if legal), or personal alarms. Know how to use these types of devices and be committed to using them should a dangerous situation occur. Through preparation and awareness you will enjoy increased “peace of mind” and confidence knowing you are protected.
- Be aware of internet predators. – Practice computer safety, either at home or away at college. Never give out your personal information to someone online that you don’t know, and be cautious about what you say to a stranger.
- Use the “buddy system” anytime you can. – Whether crossing campus, shopping in a mall, going out to eat, or going to a bar, don’t go alone, if possible. There is power in numbers, so make that your policy.
- Never go to an ATM at night, or alone.
- Pay attention to everything around you. – A fun idea is to give yourself and a friend a test walk past someone to see how well you could describe him or her if something happened. It may surprise you how much you don’t remember, or the different way you and your friend describe him/her.
- Make copies of important papers.- Your credit cards, health ID cards, etc., should be stored in a safe place. Leave a copy with Mom and Dad.
- Last but not least on our list, don’t drink and drive or text and drive!
Speaking of Mom and Dad, call them at least once a week, to let them know how things are going, your plans for the coming week, and generally, just to touch base. It is always a comfort to parents to hear from their kids and know they are alright. There are many other suggestions we could make, and you have probably already heard these from your parents. Believe me, as you get older, you will realize just how smart Mom and Dad are. They have learned from experience, and while they want you to have the college experience, they want your safety, foremost. Just use common sense. We wish for you a safe and happy college life.