Preparing your student for college
The preparations for college are almost done. The dorm décor is ready, the wardrobe is complete, and the books are ordered; but one vital preparation piece is often overlooked – talking about the risks of college life. Not only talking about the risks but training and preparing students, especially females, about the dangers they may face and what to do to reduce the risk.

Sexual assault on campus is a genuine problem, and there’s no pretty or easy way to talk about it. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. The Department of Justice reports that college students aged 18-24 are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence, and nearly 1 in 5 college-aged women are likely to experience a completed or attempted rape at some point during her college career states a study from the Journal of American College Health.
In recent months, colleges across the country have faced increased scrutiny over the handling of safety issues, including sexual assault. While institutions are finding new ways to educate and inform students, this is not enough. Prevention education and self- defense strategies need to be taught before a student even sets foot on campus.

Statistically speaking, freshmen and sophomores are at a heightened risk of becoming victims. As a female undergrad explores her newfound independence, surroundings, and friends, she may find her safety compromised unexpectedly. The National Crime Victimization Survey shows that people who used physical self-defense in response to attempted rape were significantly more likely to stop the assault, demonstrating that knowing what to do and having self-defense skills can reduce risk.

One Parkland mother, Delia Skuta, spoke with her daughter about the risks in college. She hopes that the talks about sexual assault and the reality of what is happening on campuses will help prepare her. “Not only have we had safety conversations throughout high school, but she and her friend thought it would be important to take a self-defense class before heading off to college in the fall,” Skuta said. Both girls enrolled in personal safety and self defense training classes. “They feel much more confident and prepared going to college. It really opened their eyes,” Skuta said.

Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift, urges people to sharpen their awareness of gut instincts in order to take advantage of the body’s early warning system.
Throughout his career, he has discovered that most individuals who come to him as victims of assault can recognize hesitancy and nervousness when reflecting on the initial interaction with her assaulter. De Becker said, “the biggest mistake you can make is to rationalize your fears as “just being silly,” and ignore the instincts that could have saved you from a dangerous situation.” He notes, “80 percent of violence is perpetrated by people we know,” confirming that awareness is the first step to reducing the risk of assault.

Despite the attention that the issue of sexual assault receives by both the media and universities, a high percentage of students remain at risk. While it may not be the easiest conversation to have, it will better prepare students to deal with the issue in an informed way.
Parents can gain a little peace of mind and students may increase their confidence, as well as the odds of staying safe, by enrolling in a safety and self-defense class before they step foot on campus. Many local police departments offer R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) or look to local experts who run classes. The safety education may be just as important as the rest of those classes.℗