Cultivating Safety on Campus This Fall

More than 17 million college students in the United States will head back to school or take their first steps on a new campus this fall. It is an exciting time, but also a time when many students and their parents may be thinking about how to stay safe. It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Keeping this in mind, there are strategies students can use to help reduce their risk for many types of crimes on campus, including sexual violence.

The first step in staying safe is recognizing risks and being proactive. As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent sexual violence from occurring. Watching out for friends and staying aware of what is happening in the area can be helpful, along with knowing what to do if they suspect someone might be at risk of becoming a victim of drug facilitated sexual assault.

“For many college students, campus can feel like a second home,” says Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services at RAINN. “Sometimes this can cause people to forget to take some of the safety precautions they would in other places. Remember to keep an eye out for your friends, and know how to get help—just in case you need it.”

It’s important for students to remember to trust their instincts if a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable and to practice safe drinking if alcohol is involved. It can also be useful to keep in mind some strategies to rely on if someone is pressuring them into engaging in sexual activity or in more increased activity than they are comfortable with.

For both students and parents it's helpful to keep these safety tips in mind, but being aware of safety doesn't have to mean missing out on opportunities. “While it's an exciting time to make friends and find your community, it's important to take care of yourself and trust your instincts—especially for incoming students,” says Sorensen. “Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be great! But you don't have to do anything you're uncomfortable with just because you're in a new place.”

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

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