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 Tips for Parents to Help Determine College Campus Safety

Questions to ask about college campus safety

Visiting a college campus is an exciting time for the entire family and you have a lot to observe in a short period of time.  During your campus tour, you need to ask questions as well as look around.   It is important that at this time you do not fail to consider campus safety.  There are certain things that you can do to determine the safety of the campus.

  • First, stop by the campus security office and talk to the employees.  Find what the university is doing to keep the campus safe?, How many officers do they have and are they on duty 24/7?  What kind of training do campus security personnel receive?
     

  • Next, you can approach students to see their views.  Ask how safe they feel on campus and in their dorm room/apartment.   Find out if they know about crimes that may have been committed and how are they made aware of these situations -- bulletin boards, school newspaper?
     

  • You need to be very observant as you walk around the campus.  For instance what security measures are in place in the dorms?  Are doors always locked or just after hours?  Do first level dorm rooms have window locks or security precautions?  Do doors on dorms have peepholes so you can see visitors?  How is access to the dorms controlled?  Are call boxes or safety phones available and do they connect directly to campus police?  Is there an escort service available?  Are paths, parking lots, building and dorms well lit at all times including weekends?
     

  • If possible stay until it gets dark to see what the campus looks like at night. Check to see what the area surrounding the campus is like.  Are there boundaries that you child should never cross?
     

  • Lastly, do some research on your own.  The Department of Education compiles campus safety statistics by for over 6,000 colleges and universities in the United States and this information can be found at http://ope.ed.gov/security/.  In addition, you can request this information from the college and they are legally mandated to provide it to you.

Be sure to ask the same questions at each school and take notes so that you can later do a comparison.  Remember to consider the location of the schools when you are evaluating the statistics.  Large urban schools will have a higher percentage of commuter students compared to a suburban or rural school with a large resident base and this can skew the results.  Also, more crimes reported could mean a safer campus because of a proactive security team.

A college visit is a great way to become familiar with what life is really like for the students attending the school.  Remember that you will be entrusting them with something more precious than you own life -- your child.  So feel free to ask questions until you have peace of mind.