Somehow many of us made it through college without being victimized. However, it is the dawn of a new and far more dangerous day, for our daughters. As a safety expert, my job is to provide information that is realistic. I know telling students not to walk across campus alone at night, or go off campus alone, is a waste of breath. My daughter called me many times as she walked to the campus library at night, alone. Me, the safety expert. I was helpless to change her behavior. All of us are. So I had to educate my college student in safety and security techniques.
Having personally put pepper spray on my daughter's keyring, I felt some relief knowing that if accosted, she at least had a chance to protect herself. Having had conversations about living safely, I knew she had a headstart over the average student.
What I know from talking to teenage girls and their parents over the past two decades, and having been a teenage girl and the parent of one, they feel invincible. Young women don't think anything will happen to them. Until it does. Or, until it happens to someone close to them. Or, even a student at their school.
Here are some tips that I encourage you to share with your daughters to begin the conversation. Do you think they will listen? Did you follow any of these during your college years? What would you add to the list?
The wake-up call. Statistics:
The first six weeks of college is known as the Red Zone. That is when young, naive women are most vulnerable and victimized. That is when the perpetrators are actively seeking victims among the suddenly free and excited students who are without supervision for the first time in their lives. They are the perfect target.
According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)*:
of your surroundings. Know where you are and who is around you. This ensures that no one can sneak up on you.
since they prevent you from hearing what is going on around you (or who may be approaching).
It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
with you and cab fare.
when students are raped. It prevents you from making safe decisions and being able to defend yourself. Watch your drink when out and never drink from common or shared containers.
If something feels wrong or alarms you do not ignore it. Listen to your body and get out of the situation.
My recommendations are:
Carry an effective non-lethal safety product. A loud key ring personal alarm will increase witness potential. A quality pepper spray formula (do your research), carried in an accessible manner is the most effective way of physically stopping someone (although nothing is 100 percent). http://tinyurl.com/macepepperspray
Secure your valuables with portable locking safes, book and can diversion safes.
Burglar-proof your dorm room or apartment. Utilize doorknob, doorstop and portable motion alarms. There are many DIY options on the market.
Utilize technology/smart phone apps. Research apps that eliminate the middle man, have a live operator listening in and will send help directly to you when in danger. http://tinyurl.com/myforceapp
Please talk to your daughters.
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