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School Safety Topics

Violence Prevention

Colleges and universities are valued in our society for their many contributions to the common good. As such, crime and violence on campuses must not be tolerated. Not only does it affect those involved in the incident, but it also has a negative halo effect on the campus and community as a whole. Therefore, it is vital to understand the characteristics surrounding crime in our colleges and universities so that law enforcement, policy makers, administrators, students and the public can work together to alleviate the problem at these institutions.

Understanding the Issue

Campus crime and violence is a broad topic that includes targeted violence (attacks by known or knowable attackers) such as forcible rape, aggravated assault and robberies, as well as property crimes like burglary and motor vehicle theft. Fortunately, the prevalence of the former is very low: in 2010, 92,695 crimes were reported to college and university campus police. Of these reported crimes, 97 percent were property crimes, and 3 percent were violent crimes. For purposes of the Maryland Center for School Safety website, sex crimes including rape and sexual assault are covered separately.

  • Are campus crime and violence statistics accurate?
    Calculating the exact rates of crime on campuses is difficult, partly because of varying reporting methods, but also due to embarrassment on the part of victims (particularly regarding sex-based crimes), lack of understanding about what constitutes a crime or feelings that the incidents were too minor. We do, however, assume that the relative percentages of targeted violence and property crimes are directionally reliable.
  • What are some basic safety tips for students?
    1. Make the call. Program the number of your college or university's police or public safety department into your cell phone so you have it at your fingertips in the event of an emergency on campus. If you see a crime in progress or even something suspicious, don't hesitate, make the call.
    2. Empower yourself. Enroll in a self-defense course. If your college or university offers a sexual assault defense program such as R.A.D., sign up with a friend and empower yourself. These courses are designed to give you the tools that may help save your life.
    3. Don't walk alone. Take advantage of your college or university's safety escort services or walk with friends or classmates
    4. Protect your property. Never leave items like your backpack, laptop or cell phone unattended-even if its just for a minute. Make it a habit to take these valuables with you.
    5. Report solicitors. Magazine subscriptions, donation requests, spa packages and earn money now schemes are some of the common methods criminals use to take your money. Avoid solicitors scams by politely saying no and immediately notifying university police. Never provide a solicitor with your personal information.
    6. On the bus. Stay awake and keep your personal belongings close to you. Sit near the door or the driver and stay awake. If someones harassing you, don't hesitate; ask the driver to let you off at a populated bus stop or a well-lit area like a gas station.
    7. Grab it. Close it. Lock it. College and university parking lots and structures are common targets for thieves. Never leave valuables in your car or items in plain view. Take items like GPS devices, removable stereo face plates, and electronics with you. Make sure your windows are up and the doors are locked. Apply a security device or set the alarm.
    8. Keep personal information private. Avoid becoming a victim of identity theft by carrying only the necessary items in your wallet or purse. Don't give personal information to solicitors.
    9. Keep your dorm locked. Even if you're going next door to a friends room, always grab your keys and lock the door. A propped open door is a perfect target for would-be thieves and allows them quick and easy access to your belongings. If your room has additional doors and windows, always be sure they are closed and locked as well.
    10. Protect your wheels. If you ride a bike, find out if your university offers free registration. Registering your bike helps improve the likelihood of recovery if stolen. Invest in a high-quality, hardened steel U lock. For optimum security, lock both the front and frame to the bike rack.

      Source: International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA)
  • What should a student do if he or she is attacked?
    • Go with you instincts, but be realistic about your ability to fight off someone; your instinct may be to run, scream, kick, hit or bite.
    • If a weapon is displayed, don’t resist. Give up your property and save your life.
    • Do what you are told and don’t make any sudden moves.
    • Try to remember as many details as possible and alert Campus Safety or the Police as soon as possible.
    • Your goal should be to escape safety and survive; cooperate if you think that resisting may lead to further harm.
    • Remember every situation is different; you are the only one who can decide the appropriate course of action.
    • Constantly play the “what if” game to think about what you would do in a particular threatening situation. This will help prepare you to respond instinctively when a threat is encountered.
    • After an event, never feel guilty about what you did or did not do.

      Source: International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA)

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