Going away to college is an exciting time for teenagers. They have the opportunity to live independently, discover themselves, and pursue an education. However, this drastic lifestyle change can also be scary. Parents may feel uneasy about their children’s wellbeing, and research from the Clery Center states that 82% of college students feel concerned about their safety on campus.
Although it is the school’s responsibility to create a safe environment where students can focus on their studies, college-bound teens armed with knowledge about campus safety will be much more comfortable in this new phase of life. Before your teen heads off to college, let them know about the safety tips listed below — so you can both have peace of mind.
1. Avoid Exploring Campus Alone at Night
Parents are deeply concerned about campus safety, so colleges often emphasize the importance of on-campus security. When you and your teen view prospective campuses, tour guides may draw attention to “blue light” towers and surveillance cameras and explain how the access control systems function.
However, these measures can only do so much. The best way for your teen to prevent a precarious situation is simply by avoiding walking through campus alone after dark.
To get around this, some students may think it’s a good idea to simply use their smartphones to video chat with friends while walking by themselves at night. But some experts suggest that this could actually make students more vulnerable to an attack because they will appear distracted by their phones.
Instead, advise your teen to make plans to travel with a group if they have to be out after dark. Many colleges also offer safety escort services that allow students to contact a phone number to have a security officer drive or walk the student to their destination.
2. Restrict Social Media Privacy Settings
The Pew Research Center found that 76% of people between 18 to 29 use Instagram, 75% use Snapchat, and 55% use TikTok. The vast majority of these users regularly check their social media apps throughout the day.
When the pandemic began, college students had no choice but to take online classes and give up in-person social interactions. As a result, their social media use significantly increased. Although social media can be beneficial for teen college students to understand campus culture better and make new friends, it also runs the risk of creating a dangerous situation.
The widespread use of social media has made it much easier for predators to cyberstalk, groom, and abuse teens. Cyberstalkers could be a former dating partner, friend, or someone your teen has never even met before. And when users post too much personal information — such as their contact details or current location — it makes them an easy target for intrusive behavior or even violent crimes.
For better social media safety, ensure that your teen knows to avoid posting personally identifiable information online and restricts their social accounts from public access.
3. Always Keep Your Dorm or Apartment Locked
Most college students are eager to experience independence, and a huge part of this entails moving away from home. While moving into a dorm or apartment is exciting, college students need to take the proper safety precautions. Dorm rooms and college apartment complexes are high foot-traffic areas, so even if all the other residents are also students, your teen should be wary of strangers.
Educate your teen about why it’s so important to remain aware of their surroundings, and remind them that it’s never safe to leave their personal space unlocked. Even if they’re just running out to their car, showering in a communal bathroom, or going to do some laundry, they should always secure their dorm or apartment while they’re gone.
4. Protect Your Medications
This is an often-overlooked tip, but one that’s highly relevant. College students who take prescription drugs may not have had to practice medication safety at home, but knowing how to handle their medications properly is of the utmost importance as they move into a communal setting.
Unfortunately, misuse is a reality on many campuses, so teaching your teens how to safeguard their prescriptions from theft is critical. Their medications could be taken from drawers or backpacks by visitors, roommates, or classmates. As such, your teen should exercise discretion and not advertise to other students that they take medications. When possible, they should keep them hidden in a private place.
For added safety, your teen can store most prescription medications in locking pill bottles. These pill bottles allow students to keep their medications safe no matter where they are. Only accessible with a preset or custom 4-digit code, locking pill bottles ensure that no one can illicitly access your teen’s medications.
5. Practice Situational Awareness and Know How to Access Campus Security
While your teen should avoid walking around campus alone at night, there may be situations where it is necessary, or where an emergency could occur during daylight hours. Just in case, they should be prepared.
As allowed by their school, college students should carry protection such as pepper spray, a whistle, or an alarm. Ensure that your teen knows how to use these tools properly in an emergency, and pays close attention to their surroundings when walking alone.
It’s also important that students know how to access campus security services, so they can quickly get help if an incident occurs. From the day that class starts, ensure that your teen knows where blue light emergency phones are located, how to access ride services, and the phone number for campus security.
Promoting a Safer College Experience
Sending your teen off to college can be nerve-wracking, but taking these steps can help put you and your child at ease. By being mindful and preparing for possible emergencies, your teen will be better equipped to handle any challenge their college life might bring.
This includes keeping medications secure and out of reach. At Safe Rx, we know that medication safety begins with reducing unauthorized access to prescriptions. That’s why Safe Rx locking pill bottles allow students to protect their prescription medications with a secure 4-digit code.
Parents founded Safe Rx to create a safer world for their children, and we encourage other parents to do the same. If you’re interested in learning more about how Safe Rx can promote medication safety and help keep your teen safe at college, contact us today!