Whether you’re heading back to campus as a senior or a freshman this fall, back to school is an exciting time full of new experiences, adventures, and friends. While you’re buying your books and picking out your class schedule, take a minute to make your back-to-campus safety plan.
In 2019, sexual assaults accounted for 43% of reported on-campus crimes, and burglaries accounted for 33% of all crimes ( NCES). In addition, more than 50% of sexual assaults occur during the fall semester (RAINN).
Below we’ve outlined two steps you can take to help Make It Safe on Campus this fall.
Step 1: Make Yourself a Hard Target
Criminals look for soft targets or vulnerable-looking individuals who are walking with their heads down, are spaced out with their headphones in, look lost, or are walking alone. Becoming a hard target decreases your vulnerability. Practice having relaxed awareness by knowing what is happening around you so you can prepare to defend yourself if needed. Become a hard target on campus by:
- Learn your way around campus: If you know your way around campus, you won’t look lost and you can walk confidently to your class or destination. B Knowing your campus also allows you to recognize when something is out of the ordinary.
- Don’t let your guard down: We're all taught about stranger danger from a young age. Although campus might feel like a safe space, there are still plenty of strangers around. Keep your dorm and apartment doors locked, don’t take rides from someone you don’t know, and meet people in public spaces.
- Never attend a party alone and use the buddy system: When you’re alone, you’re more vulnerable. Don’t walk around campus at night by yourself and attend parties with a trusted friend or group of friends so you can avoid any alcohol-induced vulnerable situations.
- Learn about your school’s security measures: Many campuses offer safe rides and campus escort services, so you never have to walk alone, especially late at night. Most campuses also have emergency blue phone poles placed throughout campus in case of emergency.
- Be mindful of your social media privacy settings: Make sure only your trusted friends can see your posts and avoid using location tags until you’ve left the location.
Step 2: Carry a Personal Safety Device
You can do everything right to be a hard target, and an attack could still happen. Maximize your safety by having a way to defend yourself and be prepared to use it. Different personal safety tools provide different levels of self-defense. Which one fits your needs?
Level 1: Grab Attention with Personal Alarms
Personal alarms alert bystanders and help scare off a threat with an ear-piercing sound that can be heard up to the length of three football fields. They’re compact and easy to carry and easily attach to any bag, purse, or keyring, making them accessible at a moment’s notice. They come in many colors and sizes and are legal to carry anywhere.
Level 2: Deter from a Safe Distance with Pepper Spray and Pepper Gel
While personal alarms help to alert others, pepper sprays and gels offer you a means to defend yourself. They offer protection up to 12 feet, maintaining a safe distance between you and a potential threat. Different attachment options make these easy to carry and easily accessible when you need them most. The many shapes, sizes, and colors available provide options to fit anyone’s needs and style.
The 2-in1 Pepper Gel with Detachable Safety Whistle combines maximum strength pepper gel with an ear-piercing safety whistle that you can carry with you in places that don’t allow pepper sprays or gels. You can also use the whistle to call for help before you need to use your pepper gel or immediately after as you quickly move to safety.
Level 3: Deter and Notify Trusted Contacts with SMART Pepper Spray
SMART pepper spray is a Bluetooth-connected personal safety device that provides you with the means to defend yourself. It alerts selected trusted contacts of your location when deployed or when the "Alert" button is tapped in the connected SABRE Personal Safety app. You can also alert the authorities with an additional subscription plan.
For more campus safety information, fill out this form to download SABRE’s Campus Safety 101 booklet.
While self-defense products that offer protection at a distance are legal to carry by anyone over the age of 18, some campuses restrict students from carrying certain products. Be sure to consult your campus’ rules and regulations on the use of personal safety products.