When young men and women graduate high school and start considering their college options, a lot of different factors might be taken into consideration. They might think about which school can offer the right programs to meet their needs, or which schools have the best reputations for academic success and achievement.
Increasingly, however, more and more young people are also having to think about which colleges will be the safest for them to live at and experience each day, and with increasingly frequent reports of sexual abuse and assault cases at colleges across the US, it’s easy to see why so many young individuals are frightened for their well-being.
Sexual abuse and assault can be among the most damaging experiences for any victim to endure, and the long-term effects of suffering rape or sexual attack are life-altering. Statistics show that there are tens of millions of young sexual abuse survivors in the US, and as they grow older and enter adulthood, the trauma and scars of their past experiences remain with them.
Victims can suffer panic attacks, depression, loneliness, anxiety, fears, phobias, paranoia, insomnia, and so much more, and it’s clear that more must be done to help make colleges and similar locations safe spaces where students can feel free to pursue their studies and enjoy their lives without the risk of falling victim to a sexual predator. Here are some techniques colleges are utilizing across the US.
More Police and Security Personnel on Campus
One of the most obvious ways to help prevent sexual abuse or any other kind of crime from taking place on a college campus is by having more people there to stop it. For this reason, many colleges across the US have been raising their quotas of security personnel, bringing more officers and agents on board, as well as working with local police departments to organize more regular checks.
A greater security presence on campus can not only help in terms of stopping any assaults that may be occurring, but also act as a deterrent to would-be predators. If students see more security agents around and understand that they’ll be severely punished for breaking the rules, logic dictates that they’ll be less likely to attempt any attacks.
In this day and age, pretty much every student across the US has a smartphone in their purse or pocket at all times, and many colleges are starting to take advantage of this, designing their own safety apps for students to download and use in between their classes for a healthier, happier life on campus.
A campus safety app can offer a range of features, from maps that help new students get around more easily without getting lost to alert systems that students can use if they feel threatened or in danger. Some apps can also allow friends to track each other as they move around the campus, so they’ll immediately be able to recognize if one of their friends is in danger.
Evening Escorts and Buddy Systems
Another increasingly common technique for battling back against sexual assault on campus is the introduction of evening escorts and buddy systems. Many colleges make use of escorts, with security agents or other responsible individuals tasked with escorting students back home in the evenings or around the campus if they get lost.
Buddy systems are also a great way to ensure that students always have someone by their side to look out for them and have a lower chance of finding themselves alone and potentially in danger.
Encouraging Bystander Intervention
A lot of sexual assaults, both on campus and in other locations, could be prevented if other people intervene when they notice something suspicious, and colleges are trying to encourage more people to speak up and say something when they feel that one of their fellow students might be in danger through the introduction of bystander intervention programs and talks.
An example of this, in action, would be if a student notices his friend putting something in a girl’s drink at a party or leading a young woman who appears to be intoxicated to a separate room. The signs of possible sexual assault aren’t always as clear as this, but there are many cases when attempted attacks are relatively easy to identify and can be stopped, with quick-thinking.
Another very simple way in which colleges can help to reduce their risks of sexual assault on campus is to simply work to raise awareness of the risks that students can face. A lot of young men and women are excited about heading off to college and have a lot of different things to think about, from making friends and keeping up with social engagements to staying on top of their studies too.
In many cases, even if young people are aware of the possibilities of sexual assault on campus, they might not know all the possible signs, risks, and methods they can use to report crimes or prevent them from happening in the first place. Colleges can organize lectures, awareness days, and so on in order to help every student learn more.
Self-Defense and Resistance Programs
Having more security officers around and encouraging bystanders to intervene when they see that someone might be in danger is all well and good, but there are many times when sexual predators will strike when a victim is alone and unprotected. When this happens, a victim who knows how to defend themselves and resist effectively will have a better chance of escaping the situation.
Some colleges and campuses are offering more self-defense classes for young people who want to be able to defend themselves, while others have introduced new resistance programs, designed to help young women, in particular, look for the signs of sexual assault or attempted assault and understand what action they can take.
These are just a few ways in which colleges can take measures to make their campuses safer for all, and even the slightest chance in policy or introduction of a new initiative could help to save young lives from being damaged forever.
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