Safety and Security on College Campuses
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
You’re in high-school and you’ve been having numerous discussions with friends and family about what colleges you want to go to. Maybe you’ve even applied to a few and have been accepted and in some cases rejected. Your search for schools generally involves the type of education you will receive, costs, location and the notoriety of the school. Choices like this weigh heavily on the student and the parent.
One of the most overlooked aspects of selecting a school is consideration for its safety and security on campus. When you or your child heads off into the real world, their safety needs to be the most important part of your decision making.
College is a mish-mash of people from all over the place from different cultures, backgrounds and ages. This melting pot can be a great learning experience. But things can go wrong too.
The stresses of college life can lead to violence at times. Additionally, college students are sometimes targeted by locals who know the students are in an unfamiliar environment. Then there’s dating violence, stalking, and way too much alcohol and sometimes drugs involved.
Another security issue here is that learning institutions are generally “open” and inviting opposed to locked down and secure. Not doing your security homework can turn a student’s life for the worst if they don’t put systems in place to protect themselves.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses.
Do your research into the crime climate of the learning institution you plan on attending. Don’t sit idly back and hope everything will be OK. Educational institutions aren’t meant to be secure fortresses. They are meant to be open learning institutions. While many districts are beefing up security, others are doing less than their share of making it difficult for a predator to gain access.
- Directly call the institutions security office and get statistics for on and off campus crimes. You want to know exactly what has taken place in the last 3-5 years.
- If you go to the campus have an onsite meeting with the security office. It is in the best interest, and required by law for colleges to offer personal security training for their students.
- Determine what systems are in place to head off danger in regards to campus security personnel and technology.
- Ask if they have “threat management teams” (TMT) in place. The sole purpose of TMT is to predict and prevent violence by having reporting systems in place that identify students and their behaviors who have the potential for acting out. Threat management teams intervene and provide those students with the necessary help they need.
- If they have a rape counseling center or any type of victim’s advocacy on campus talk to them too.
- Find someone on campus who has been there for at least a year. Ask around how people feel in general.
- Whether living on or off campus invest in your personal security. Wireless home alarms and portable home security systems are cost effective and an additional layer of protection. Security cameras are inexpensive and can greatly enhance your security too.