Though it is hard to think about, summer is almost over. Students return to school soon. And in a matter of weeks, thousands of our young adults will be off to colleges all over the country, either for the first time, or to embark on another semester. While the new semester brings opportunities for newfound freedom and excitement, there is still the potential to be a victim of crime.
“Based on the NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey) from 1995 to 2005, college students between the ages of 18 and 24 experienced an estimated 4.6 million violent victimizations” (Hart, 2007, as cited in Hart & Miethe, 2011). Hart & Miethe (2011) state that this number results in an approximate annual rate of 56 violent victimizations per 100,000 college students (p. 158). Moreover, these numbers only represent violent victimization. That means that the overall victimization levels of college students are higher because it is possible to fall victim to more than just violent crimes.
Female college students often have concerns around victimization, focusing on sexual assault and stalking. But young men also should be serious about protecting themselves against crime. Hart & Miethe’s (2011) study supported “the position that most acts of interpersonal violence against college students are relatively minor assaults among males that occur outside the confines of campus” (p. 175). This illuminates the vulnerabilities of predominately young men, both on and off campus.
These reports aren’t meant to be scare tactics but instead to serve as a reminder that young adults are susceptible to crime. But there are steps that can be taken to lessen the likelihood of victimization. Sometimes young adults feel invincible, which can result in a lackluster approach to personal safety. While we always want to empower our youth to be strong and independent, our main priority is make sure they are taking precautions to protect themselves. As parents, teachers, and other authority figures, it is our responsibility to remind our youth to be cautious during their care-free days at school.
Below are some tips for young adults while they are spending time, both on and off campus:
- Use the buddy system. Don’t walk alone if possible, especially at night.
- Lock your dorm room or apartment. We always hope we can trust our neighbors, but we shouldn’t give them the opportunity to test our trust.
- Report any suspicious activity observed on campus to the campus or local police. It may turn out to be nothing, but why risk it?
- Stay in well-lighted areas while walking at night, and entering and exiting buildings.
- Use the campus police. If an area feels unsafe, chances are that others feel the same way. Inform the police and let them help make things safer on your campus.
- Be alert to what goes on around campus. The email notifications of criminal activity around campus may seem annoying, but being aware of what is going on out there is the first step in making sure that you don’t get caught in the middle of it.
For more information on the research cited in this article, email firstname.lastname@example.org.