Friday, April 22, 2011

Recent attacks highlight the need for campus safety

Recent events have students at Guilford College in England on edge. In just a matter of one month, the school’s office of public safety has received at least two reports of violence, leaving some concerned about their personal safety.

According to the Guilfordian, the most recent incident occurred when a male student was attacked and robbed in the woods that border the school. The victim, a sophomore, did not sustain any serious injuries, but the mugging has made him more cautious about where he spends his time.

"Ever since then, I've been more suspicious," the student told the news source. "I really do love the woods, but I also realize that it's an impossible space for P-Safe to completely patrol. You need to know when to turn around and walk away."

While some have considered stepping up patrols around the area, school officials believe that the biggest thing students can do is boot their awareness of what’s going on around them.

"We can't protect you from everything - there is also a level of personal responsibility involved," director of public safety Ron Stowe told the news provider.

While being on one’s toes is certainly a good first step, there are a number of other things college students can do to stay safe while out on campus. For starters, when walking alone, experts recommend removing any distractions that might make you an easy target. Turning off your music and ending your phone conversations will ensure that you won’t be off-guard.

Along with staying alert, students should be sure to pay attention to where and when they’re walking. For instance, heading to the ATM at night can make you especially susceptible to becoming the victim of assault and theft.

There are also a number of common sense personal safety precautions that many students may overlook. Specifically, staying on well-lit paths and high-traffic areas is essential, and if you’re considering going on a run or walk through the woods, do so while it’s light out or bring someone to go with.

Of course, prevention is not the only aspect of personal safety you should be concerned about. Self defense is equally important in case you are ever confronted with a dangerous situation. According to a recent study conducted by the Justice Department and Centers for Disease Control, 1.9 million women are attacked each year, so being prepared is crucial.

One of the best ways to protect yourself in the event of an assault or an attack is to buy pepper spray. The device boasts a number of benefits when it comes to personal safety. When it is discharged directly into the face of an attacker, it will make it difficult for them to see and breathe, allowing a potential victim to get to safety.

Although usually very effective, if you do not know how to use pepper spray correctly, your efforts will all be for naught. Experts recommend carrying it an easy-to-reach location, such as a keychain, so that it can quickly be taken out if the need ever arises. Furthermore, like any personal safety device, it requires practice to use correctly. Being able to confidently take out pepper spray when the time comes will not only keep you more level-headed, but will also protect you from the possibility of suffering injuries, or worse. 

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