Back to School: Why Colleges Should Emphasize Student Safety

College student safety is a priority for many college campuses as students return to in-person learning for a new school year. While developing a new normal, colleges should consider investing more time and resources into cultivating student safety. Whether on or off-campus, college student safety should be a priority that can help attract and retain students over time. Here are four key statistics that show the importance of college student safety and how colleges can address them.

Parents

Key Statistic: 74.5% of parents reported safety as the most important factor when selecting a college – Noodle

College Student safety is the top priority for parents. College can be the first experience with full independence for many college students and parents who want to ensure that colleges have safety programs implemented to ensure the safety of their kids while obtaining a quality education. Students also acknowledge that safety is important with 86% reporting that their parents believe the safety of the campus is an important factor in choosing a college.

More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November

Indicators of School Crime and Safety

One initiative, emergency blue lights, was implemented by many college campuses to address college student safety. However, cellphones and apps have led many to question the overall effectiveness of blue lights. With college students more mobile than ever, safety programs integrate with student behaviors.

Emergency Blue Light Effectiveness

Key Statistic: Of 508 blue light activations at the University of Florida between January 2017 and January 2019, only 14 (2.7%) required police action, and only one of these was an emergency – The Independent Florida Alligator

How effective are emergency blue lightboxes at increasing college student safety? In 2015, the University of Colorado Boulder removed the blue light system due to the data showing emergency calls came from mobile phones and the system was used more for prank calls. In addition, the cost for installation ($18,000-$20,000) and yearly maintenance ($1000/year) have led many campuses to uninstall blue lightboxes.

Forcible sex offenses on campus increased from 2200 in 2001 to 10400 cases in 2017 (372% increase)

Indicators of School Crime and Safety 

The data reflects how college student behaviors have shifted away from blue lightboxes and onto their cell phones. Students travel with their phones from residences to the classroom and it provides more convenience than searching for a blue light box during an emergency. This is especially important in regards to the rising rate of campus sexual assaults. Students must be able to call for help immediately without searching for a blue light box while on campus.

Sexual Assaults

Key Statistic: Forcible sex offenses on campus increased from 2200 in 2001 to 10400 cases in 2017 (372% increase) – Indicators of School Crime and Safety 

Student safety as a whole has improved significantly with overall on-campus crime decreasing, yet the rate of forcible sex offenses is dramatically rising. Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. In addition, 23.1% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted.

These elevated rates create safety anxieties for parents and students alike. Whether returning from the library after completing homework assignments or walking across campus after a social event late at night, students need safety solutions that are with them at all times.

First-Year Students At Highest Risk

Key Statistic: More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November and students are at increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college – Indicators of School Crime and Safety

New students (undergraduates and transfer students) are at an increased risk of sexual assaults. From registration to the beginning of the first day of school, student safety programs should take a proactive approach to minimize the risk of sexual assaults. While colleges can provide safety recommendations, explain no-tolerance policies that lead to potential expulsion and plot out emergency blue lightboxes across the campus, these measures only help for a limited time.

Instead, colleges should offer proactive solutions that not only protect students from potential sexual assaults but also improve their overall safety on and off-campus. These types of measures serve to protect students and become a potential program to attract high school students and parents.

A Mobile-First Proactive Safety Solution

Key Statistic: More than 72% of students reported feeling safer when using POM Safe

POM Safe enables colleges to offer a mobile-first, proactive safety solution for incoming students that addresses the on and off-campus safety concerns of parents and students. Our small, portable safety device is easy to carry on a keychain, a purse, or backpack and is paired with a mobile app with safety features designed to deter, de-escalate and defend against uncomfortable and dangerous situations.

Student safety does not need to stop where the campus ends. College can offer the POM Safe device and subscription safety service to address student safety and equip them with more than just a simple alarm that only works on campus. The latest version of our system can be configured to route emergency calls to campus security while a student is on campus or directly to 911 when a student is off-campus and anywhere within the United States.


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