Most first-year students at college live in dorms or some other form of on-campus living. Usually there are security measures such as magnetic card locks on exterior doors and key locks leading to the dorm room itself.
I can say from personal experience that these precautions do not ensure property or physical safety. Someone can breach the exterior by asking a student to hold the door for them, and roommates do not always remember to lock up before leaving (even if your child does). These steps can be taken to promote security for your child:
- Wireless Home Security– It’s not just for homes anymore. These inexpensive systems give your child, or possibly you, information that includes: control of lights and doors, notifications of when doors are unlocked, and streaming video. Always remember to consider the privacy of your child and his or her roommate when applying this option.
- Get a dorm safe- Your college student may need important document and possession of expensive items that were previously in your care. Luckily there are safes made especially for dorm rooms that will ease your mind.
- Teach your child caution- Impress upon them the importance of not giving strangers access to buildings that require codes, cards, or keys. When in doubt, let your child know its ok to call Campus Security or a Resident Advisor. If the stranger’s motives are innocent, then they shouldn’t have a problem with it.
Campuses are relatively safe places during the day. A high volume of people and authority figures make it less likely for attacks or theft to occur. Campus crime is possible anytime and you can prepare your child to have an advantage.
- Always lock up- This mainly has to do with your child’s bike since that is often the main mode of transportation on and around campuses. (I also always make sure that there is a more expensive bike than mine in the bike rack so a determined criminal will steal that one first).
- Learn emergency phone locations- On most campuses there are lit emergency phone stations that connect directly to campus security or 911. Make sure your child memorizes the locations of these phones for emergencies.
- Pepper spray and a flashlight- Every student should have pepper spray and a good flashlight for those late night walks after studying or socializing. Take a tip from the police and get the brightest flashlight available with a strobe option. Police use the bright strobe to confuse and disorient attackers. It could be the advantage that your child needs in an emergency.
Often the dangers inherent in partying are the fears that plague parents the most when sending a child to college. This is where trust and preparation play a vital role. Short of locking your child in a basement, you can’t control their behavior. Luckily it’s not control that you need. Instilling good decision-making abilities in your child can help them to avoid trouble situations that have to do with drugs and partying.
- Self-esteem is the best drug- Build up your child’s self-esteem and self-worth long before they are approached with the pressures of drugs or binge drinking. Never let them forget that the decision to abstain is never cowardly, whether its drugs, alcohol, high speeds, or any situation they aren’t comfortable with.
- Ignorance isn’t bliss- Pretending that drugs don’t exist never works. The more you educate your child about the real dangers of drugs the better. Also don’t lie to your children and trump up the dangers of certain substances. They’ll eventually find out you weren’t truthful, and all your credibility will vanish. The best decision is full disclosure. Have faith that you taught them well enough to make the right decision on their own.
- Real life examples- Everyone knows someone whose life has been destroyed by drugs. Real life examples hit home harder than a lecture ever will. Instead of telling your child to turn off Jersey Shore, sit down and watch it with them. Turn it into a learning experience about how ridiculous and irresponsible they are.
Give Them Responsibility
You knew this day was going to come. Show your trust in your child to make the proper decisions for their own safety. With the previous steps and precautions in place, your child will have the greatest chance for a safe a liberating college experience. These investments of time and products are small costs when compared to the peace of mind you will feel knowing that you have done everything to protect your greatest investment: your child.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents sending their children off to college.