According to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, “rape is the most common violent crime on college campuses,” with one in four college women being victim to sexual assault in their higher education careers.
To battle this statistic, universities across the nation have put forth measures to make their campuses safer, including placing emergency phones around campus grounds, increasing outdoor lighting, and even offering self-defense courses and free escort services by school police officers for students who feel uncomfortable walking alone at night.
Unfortunately, these precautions are not always enough. College students need to take steps individually to protect themselves from possible threats across campus and in the surrounding areas. Here are some ways you can do this:
1. Never walk alone.
Try to bring a friend with you when walking around campus, especially at night. If this is impossible, check and see if your school offers an escort program or service.
You can also try to stay on a well-lit path and away from dark alleys that harbor unsafe situations.
Either way, be sure to maintain a confident stature when walking; attackers are less likely to confront you if you seem self-assured.
2. Carry a weapon for self-defense.
This may include pepper spray, a pocketknife, or even a firearm.
If these are prohibited by your school, consider carrying a heavy flashlight, or even using your keys as a weapon: by simply holding your keys between your fingers so the sharp side points outward, you can create a weapon that can be used to stab an attacker, even if it only fazes them for a few seconds. These seconds can make the difference in surviving an attack unharmed.
Whichever weapon you choose, remember to adhere to your university’s weapon policy.
3. Try a campus safety app for your phone.
Many applications are available that promote safety on campus, including Circle of 6, MyForce, and bSafe.
Circle of 6 was created specifically for college students to let their friends know where they are in an emergency. The app sends a message with your GPS location to six of your favorite contacts, and even emergency personnel.
MyForce is like a home security system for you! You can open the app to connect to a live security team that will record what’s going on around you and alert emergency personnel.
bSafe was also created for college students. It acts similarly to the other two apps, but all you have to do is press a button to send GPS information, record a video, start a siren, and alert people of your choosing that there’s an issue.
All of these and more can be found on most smartphones, and they are a great start or addition to your safety tactics on- and off- campus.
4. Take a self-defense class.
Learn to fight back — literally — against your attacker. Many universities offer classes on campus periodically that teach practical martial arts and other self-defense tactics to college women.
These classes generally focus on lower body defense skills, as women tend to be stronger in the legs than the arms. They may also touch on posture, eye contact, and other strategies to help students look the part while walking around campus. Check your school’s event calendar to see if a self-defense class will be offered soon!
5. Create an environment that supports survivors of violent crimes on campus.
Start a movement against campus violence with an open discussion of these issues. Many schools have seminars where victims can come forward and share their stories, give advice, and receive support as they recover from their traumatic situation. Implementing these sessions can both empower survivors and denounce the attackers, spreading a positive message across campus.
Overall, use caution when exploring campus, especially at night or when alone. Common sense is the key to safety here, but if you follow these tips, you may have a better chance of surviving these brutal attacks without an injury.