by Melissa Brunner
My cousin sent me a note this week about a conversation she had with friends, some who were returning to college themselves and others who were sending their kids off to campus for the first time. Apparantly, muggings have been a concern recently at some of the schools there (Milwaukee area). She shared with them how I survived a mugging-turned-kidnapping when I was in college and asked if I could spread the word again to parents and students about the need to be aware in order to stay safe.
College often brings our first experience living on our own. For many, it can be the first time in a larger city. The first step in staying safe is being aware of what threats exist and not assuming we could never possibly fall victim. That doesn't mean we walk around scared all the time, but it does mean we have to use common sense. Don't walk alone after dark or in isolated places. Keep your head up and an eye on your surroundings, instead of down and checking your phone. Make sure you lock your car doors and remove anything that might tempt a thief. Find out what safety resources are available - a lot of campuses have emergency phones and offer free nighttime rides or walking escorts. Know how to access those, and also know that they're worth the wait - trust me, you'd rather wait 5-10 minutes for a ride to show up than to never make it home because you decided to go it alone in the dark.
People who are looking for a victim will find a victim. We must all take steps to reduce the likelihood that we will be that victim. Staying safe doesn't mean no play, it just means playing it smart.