Back to School Safety Tips from RAINN
For the millions of students heading back to school this fall, increasing violence on campus is a harsh reality. In fact college-aged students are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted — often by someone they know. Being aware of these risks, looking out for friends and using a bit of common sense are often the first steps in staying safe. Today, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, released helpful safety tips for college students going back to school.
“While heading back to school is an exciting time for students, it can foster a false sense of security,” said Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN. “The risk doesn’t just come from strangers lurking in the bushes, but from their peers on campus. These simple tips can help students stay safe while enjoying college life.”
- 1. Go with your gut. If you feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, in any situation, trust your instincts and leave. Don’t worry about what others may think.
- 2. Make people earn your trust. A college campus can foster a false sense of security. Just because a person goes to your school, knows your friends, or spends time at your favorite hangouts doesn’t mean they’ll look out for your best interests. Get to know people first and then decide whether to trust them.
- 3. Be true to yourself. If someone is pressuring you, it’s better to lie and make up an excuse to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Your safety comes before someone else's feelings or what they may think of you.
- 4. Be a good friend. Watch out for each other and stick together as much as possible. If, for whatever reason, you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with. If a friend is acting out of character or is way too intoxicated, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911.
- 5. Keep your phone on you. Make sure it's fully charged before you leave home in case you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Make a backup plan for the night so you know where and when to meet up with friends even if your phone dies.
- 6. Be mysterious online. Posting social media updates about your whereabouts, even your class schedule, could allow someone to track your every move. If you wouldn’t give that information to a stranger, then don't put it online.
- 7. If you see something, say something. If a situation seems questionable, intervene. By taking action you can prevent a crime from being committed. It can be difficult to know what to do, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes its helps to stop and take a deep breath. Remember, you can always contact your resident assistant, campus police or call 911.
- 8. Party Smart. Guard your drink at parties. Don’t accept them from people you don’t trust or know well. Stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself. If you happen to walk away from it, get a new one. Keep track of what you’ve consumed so that you can stay in control. If you feel like you’re getting sick or are too intoxicated, find a friend that you trust to help you get home. Save the number for a reliable cab company and carry enough cash on you to get home.
- 9. Be aware. If possible, try to walk home with a friend. Whether walking to the library or leaving a party, use a well-lit route back and stay aware of your surroundings.
Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent a perpetrator from committing an act of sexual violence. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE and online at rainn.org.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE andonline.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,000 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. The hotlines have helped more than 1.7 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.