05 Nov Just How Secure Is Campus Life? — A Few Common Myths About College Safety
While all colleges strive to create a safe environment for their students, campuses aren’t immune to crime. It’s easy for students to get lulled into a false sense of security once they arrive at their new home. Although safety measures have improved on college campuses, there are a lot of myths about college safety that are helpful to address.
Now that many students have resumed in-person learning, it’s crucial to review the most prevalent college student safety myths. Some of the following safety stats may be shocking, but it’s far better for parents and students to be aware of the reality behind the myths. The best way to avoid a campus emergency is to fully comprehend and be prepared for the common risks associated with campus life.
The Facts Behind Four College Safety Myths
College Students Have Outgrown Cyberbullying
It’s nice to believe students magically transform into mature adults once they transition from high school to college. However, many of the typical problems associated with middle and high school can resurface in college life.
A glaring example of this phenomenon is cyberbullying. Researchers at Virginia Tech now claim nearly half of surveyed adults experience some degree of cyberbullying.
Understandably, cyberbullying can take a significant toll on a student’s mental health. There’s enough stress involved in adjusting to college life; add cyberbullying to the equation, and it’s easy to see why students would feel overwhelmed.
While it’s impossible to avoid social media, students need to know how to navigate it with their eyes wide open. Psychologists strongly encourage victims of cyberbullying to resist the urge to fight back. Instead, students who are experiencing cyberbullying should seek professional guidance from relevant authorities or an on-campus counselor.
It’s also worth noting that many states and colleges have anti-bullying laws in place, which can be helpful to reference if cyberbullying becomes persistent for a student.
Hazing Only Happens in Fraternities and Sororities
In the popular imagination, hazing rites are relegated to a few select fraternities and sororities. However, recent research suggests hazing is far more pervasive on college campuses.
Shockingly, hazing is almost as commonplace in high school as it is in college. According to the University of Dayton, half of incoming college students went through hazing in high school.
Once students enter college, there are many places and occasions where they could be subject to hazing. Duke University reports any group—even religious clubs—could be the location for one of these rites of passage.
One of the challenging things about hazing is that many students don’t see it as a big deal. Statistics suggest only one in ten students who went through one of these initiations thinks of themselves as being hazed.
Students should know the warning signs and long-term risks of hazing before joining any club. If students aren’t sure whether they’re being hazed, Duke University encourages students to ask whether they’d have difficulty explaining their situation to a trusted professor or guardian. If the answer is “yes”, it’s most likely hazing.
Serious Safety Issues Only Happen After Dark
According to most surveys, college students are more afraid to walk around campus at night versus during the daytime. Louisiana State University found that over 97 percent of students felt fine navigating campus during the daylight, but only 58 percent expressed the same confidence walking by themselves at night.
It’s understandable why we feel more apprehensive at night, but that doesn’t mean crime can’t happen during the day. A recent study published in US News & World Report found that some crimes happened more often during daytime hours. While violent crimes are more common at night, researchers discovered issues like theft, minor assaults, and property damage were more likely to happen earlier in the day.
Since students often have their guard down during the day, they could be an easier target—especially as they travel off-campus. Even if it’s daylight, students need to remember to stay focused and aware of their surroundings.
You can learn more about staying safe on-campus after dark in this previous Umergency post.
Crime Is Always Lower on College Campuses
For many students, campus feels like a secure second home where nothing bad could ever happen. Sure, serious crimes happen out there in the surrounding city, but not on campus, right?
It may be easier to report crimes while on campus, but that doesn’t mean they’re always less common than off-campus. Depending on what college a student is attending, crime rates may be higher than in the surrounding community.
On average, the National Center for Education Statistics estimates there are 19.5 reported crimes per 10,000 full-time college students. Value Penguin’s statistics suggest that 1 in 1,000 college students experiences one violent crime, while 22 in 1,000 deal with property damage.
While these numbers have been trending downward over the past decade, there are a few notable exceptions. Most significantly, the rate of sexual assaults has been increasing year over year. Roughly 43 percent of all criminal offenses on college campuses are related to sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, organizations like the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) say the issue of sexual violence may increase due to the pandemic. In 2020, RAINN received more calls to its sexual abuse hotline than in the past 27 years.
RAINN claims students must be especially cautious in the first few months of classes. Statistics suggest the highest percentage of sexual assaults occur in the first four months of the fall semester.
No Myth! Umergency Is A “Safe Space” On Students’ Smartphones
When students know what to expect from college life, they can take measures to protect themselves on and off-campus.
The easiest way students can be prepared is to download the Umergency app. Adding Umergency to a student’s smartphone gives everything they need to navigate through any emergency day or night, wherever their travels take them. You can learn more about how Umergency helps college parents and students at this link umergencyapp.com