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Are College Campuses Safe?

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Shootings, theft, and rapes have been happening on college campuses for years. Parents and students have become increasingly worried about the safety on campuses. The dangers on college campuses have been growing over the past few years with the increasing number of crimes ranging from theft to murder. The Virginia Tech shootings back in April 2007 got many people looking at the safety procedures that colleges are taking to protect the students from something like that happening again. Of course no college can guarantee a safe haven but some colleges are trying to come close (“Campus Safety”).

Ever since the Virginia Tech shootings, school campuses have been more frequently discussing campus safety ideas such as emergency responses and communications. Most colleges have increased the amount of security officers on campuses while also trying newer, high tech security options (Saavedra). For example, colleges are wanting to set up mass text-message alerts to students for when there is an emergency. This would be a notification system that would text message students on their cell phones during a shooting, earthquake, bomb scare, or any other emergencies (Saavedra). Although this sounds like a very good security idea, most colleges don’t have the money or resources to make this idea happen which means they are having to resort to just adding security officers to ride around campus on bicycles with loud speakers to spread the message during emergencies (Saavedra).

In 2002 the U.S. Department of Education stated that there were 16 million students enrolled in 4,200 colleges and universities across the United States (Carr 2). College students, eighteen to twenty-four years old, fell victim to approximately 479,000 crimes committed between 1995 and 2002. Weapons were present in about thirty-four percent of the crimes along with thirty-one percent of robberies involving firearms. A large number of student deaths, however, don’t have anything to do with weapons. Alcohol-related injuries cause an estimated 1,400 deaths each year for college students (Carr 2).

Rape is a major problem that largely takes place on college campuses. It is one crime that relates almost entirely to females. Around fifteen to twenty percent of female college students have reported being a victim of rape, and five to fifteen percent of male college students admit to doing the raping (“College Violence”). It is a crime that can be extremely embarrassing and shameful. The majority of campus rapes involves the use of drugs or alcohol and involves two people who know each other or who have met before (“College Violence”). Twenty-one percent of college rapes consisted of two people who were complete strangers. Drugs and alcohol were used in fifty-five to seventy-four percent of sexual assaults committed to college students (Carr)

The College Community Crime Risk study from shows that college communities in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York are among the top twenty-five high risk communities (“New Crime Study”). College communities in St. Louis, Houston, and Baltimore are also ranked in the top high risk communities. Many of the top twenty-five college communities have a ten times greater risk for violent crime than that of the national average. The size of the cities where the college campuses are has show to be related to how high or how low the risk for violent crimes is in that area (“New Crime Study”).

Although schools have bumped up their security ever sense the Virginia Tech mass shooting, the crime rate on campuses are still rising. In 2003 alone there were around 42,000 burglaries, 3,700 forcible sex offenses, 7,000 aggravated assaults and forty-eight murders that were reported on college campuses (Goldman). With crime numbers rising, students need to start taking safety precautions themselves and stop relying only on college security. By students taking it upon themselves to look for potential dangerous situation, maybe crimes such as at Virginia Tech could be prevented.

There are many things students can do to better keep themselves safe. Although college campuses need to protect their students, it’s not all their responsibility. Students need to become more cautious and not expect the colleges to take all the safety precautions. Every college campus has some form of an emergency program. Every student needs to know the program at least if not any other form of safety measures. One safety measure to take, besides knowing the campus emergency program, is to use the buddy system; don’t isolate yourself, stay in groups (Montaldo). Always have a cell phone with you but be cautious while using it so you don’t block sounds around you. Also, you should tell your friends and parents where and what time your classes are and when to expect you to return. If you are going to drink alcohol, don’t



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