Safety and Security at College

There are a great many factors to take into consideration as families explore the variety of higher education opportunities available to students. How much weight one puts on the various aspects of the many offerings depends on the personal interests of the student and their family. On occasion there may even be a lack of consensus on which factors should most influence the decision on which school to attend. One factor that should not be overlooked in the decision making process is that of personal safety and security.

Feeling Safe Matters

A student’s sense of their own safety and security can have an impact on their ability to concentrate on their studies and can affect the overall quality of life they experience at college. Families too have concerns over the safety of their students and often place great value on this aspect. While schools strive to provide a safe secure environment conducive to learning, higher education facilities are not immune to the same risks that plaque the rest of the world. Fortunately information is available to help families research this particular aspect.

How to Learn More

The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities who receive federal funding to document and publish certain crimes that take place on their campus and the adjacent area. The idea of this act is to encourage schools to be transparent and offer a degree of consumer protection. Schools publish this information in an Annual Security Report which should be readily available for review by October 1 of
each year. Most schools will publish this information on their website so it can be easily accessed by prospective students and employees alike.

Annual Security Reports will provide not only statistics on the number of reportable crimes on a particular campus but will also detail many of the risk prevention programs offered by that institution. The report may also contain certain campus policies and procedures related to campus safety and security. The statistics contained in the report will include reportable crime counts for the previous three years for that institution. Including the numbers for multiple years provides a better picture of activity on that particular campus over a period of time.

Families in the midst of choosing the college or university that is right for them will be well advised to examine the Annual Security Report for any institution they are considering. They may also wish to consider contacting area law enforcement to request similar data for the broader community. Having such information can help families understand the overall safety of the college community. It can also provide a catalyst for family discussion on the importance of good personal safety practices.

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