According to RAINN’s website, “College aged students are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted; the majority of rapes are committed by someone who the victim knows. Being aware of this risk, looking out for your friends and using a bit of common sense are often the first steps in staying safe”. Starting college is an exciting time…getting to meet new people, going to new places, and for many experiencing for the first time the freedom of being on your own. However, with these new adventures comes some risks and dangers. It’s very important to be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you. Getting to know a person takes time, and it’s very important to make sure that you take that time to really get to know them.
Here are RAINN’s 10 Safety Tips:
“1. Trust your instincts and be yourself. If you feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, in any situation, go with your gut. Don’t worry about what others think; your own safety comes first.
2. Use your cell phone as a tool. Make sure it’s fully charged before you leave home and if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a “friend-assist.” Make a plan before you go out just in case your phone dies, so you can meet up with your friends at a specific location at a certain time.
3. Be careful when leaving status or away messages online and when using the “check-in” feature on Facebook or Foursquare. Leaving information about your whereabouts reveals details that are accessible to everyone. Use common sense so that someone can’t track your every move. If you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, then don’t put it on your online profile.
4. Wait to let your guard down until people earn your trust. A college campus can foster a false sense of security. Don’t assume people you’ve just met will look out for your best interests; remember that they are essentially strangers.
5. Don’t be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation it’s OK to lie. Make up an excuse as to why you have to go. It’s better to make up a reason to leave than to stay in a possibly dangerous situation. Your safety comes before someone else’s feelings.
6. If you see something, say something! Intervene if a situation seems questionable or if someone’s safety is at risk. By taking action you can prevent a crime from being committed. Remember you can also contact your resident assistant or campus police.
7. Stick with your friends and watch out for each other. Arrive together, check in with one another throughout the night, and leave together. Think twice about going off alone and if, for whatever reason, you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with.
8. Drink responsibly and know your limits. Don’t accept drinks from people who you don’t know or trust and never leave your drink unattended. If you have left your drink alone, get a new one. Always watch your drink being prepared. At parties, stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself instead of common open containers like punch bowls.
9. Watch out for your friends. If a friend seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they’ve had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Be explicit with doctors so they can administer the correct tests.
10. Be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re walking home from the library or at a party be mindful of potential risks. Get to know your campus and learn a well-lit route back to your dorm or place of residence. Think of a safe exit strategy. Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there an emergency phone nearby?”
To read the whole article about RAINN’s ten back to school safety tips click here.