When you send your children to college, it’s natural to have concerns about their health, safety, and wellbeing. It’s likely their first time living on their own, and, as a parent, you want to make sure they will be okay. Unfortunately, you have more to worry about than just what your children will eat and how they will do in school. With college crime rates increasing around the country, there are certain safety-related issues you need to consider.
At the West Chester University of Pennsylvania alone, there were seven allegations of burglary, five of rape, two of fondling, two of aggravated assault, and one of robbery on campus in 2015. These statistics don’t include allegations made off campus and on public property near the school. With hundreds of safety-related incidents occurring on college campuses in the U.S. every year, help protect your child by asking authorities the right questions.
What Are the College’s Protocols for Crimes?
Federal law requires every college to establish and carry out certain protocols for every type of campus safety concern. Familiarize yourself with your child’s school’s protocols. Request a copy of the protocol book, or visit the website related to how the college will deal with campus crime. If the campus has a marked lack of safety and crime prevention procedures, it might not be the right school for your child. Feel free to speak to campus authorities about shortcomings in protocols – it’s your right as a parent to show the school you’re aware of an issue and that you expect the school to address your concerns.
How Does the College Treat Victims?
You might be surprised to find inappropriate protocols for crime victims, such as failing to tell them of their right to an attorney or issues regarding victim-blaming attitudes. If you don’t think your child will have the support he or she needs after a criminal activity, take your concerns to administration. It is of utmost importance that your child feels heard, believed, and supported after a crime – especially crimes involving sexual assault or rape. Students and parents should feel confident in the school’s protection of victims.
What Are the School’s Recent Crime Statistics?
While one particularly rough year might not accurately represent the college’s crime rates, taking a look at multiple years can highlight trends in certain types of criminal activity. Trends could point to a hole in the school’s criminal prevention procedures, such as a need for better security or campus lighting after hours. Ask the college directly for crime trends on campus, or use a resource like the Campus Safety and Security search tool to get crime-related information about one or multiple campuses.
Do Police Regularly Patrol Campus?
The presence of campus police officers can deter crime and make students feel safer. It can also make emergency response faster and more efficient. Check to make sure your child’s college has a campus police department or another system in place to have adequate officers patrolling campus at all times. Ask about the ratio of police officers to students to make sure the campus is enacting an adequate amount of protection.
How Does the College Handle Sexual Assault Allegations?
Sexual assault should be a topic of conversation between a parent and a college. As a parent, you should find out how the college handles sexual assault investigations. Learn who the Title IX coordinator at the campus is and where your child should go in the event of a sexual assault concern or allegation. Make sure your child understands the reporting process and has the number for a campus sexual abuse hotline. A school should have procedures in place to protect a victim’s confidentiality, rights, and future safety.
For more college crime facts or questions about a specific incident, talk to our criminal attorneys in West Chester.