Protect Your Students: Develop Strategies to Increase Campus Safety for a Healthy College Experience

Protect Your Students: Develop Strategies to Increase Campus Safety for a Healthy College Experience
All students deserve to be and feel safe at school. It is our job to do everything in our power to ensure that is the case. To do so, we need to understand our current campus safety landscape and take the appropriate measures to prevent violence – sexual or otherwise – as well as educate and encourage healthy habits. While the job at hand may be overwhelming, the information in this article will give you momentum: It will provide you with tools and a framework to help you develop your prevention plans.

First: What Are We Looking at?

Understanding what areas need our attention is a solid starting point. Consider these statistics:

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college – and most of these assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Moreover, over 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault (National Sexual Violence Resource Center).
  • 159,000 of the nation’s current freshmen will drop out of school because of alcohol or drug use (The Core Institute).
  • 90% of all campus rapes involve alcohol – either the rapist and/or the victim are under the influence (Augusta University, formerly Georgia Regents University).
  • 55% of college students involved in school clubs have experienced hazing, and 90% of college students who experienced or participated in hazing acts do not consider the behavior to be hazing in nature. Also alarming, 25% of coaches know about hazing rituals (

Helpful, Hands-on Tools

  • The Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool provides quick customized reports on campus crime and fire data. This tool was created by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting has step-by-step procedures, examples and references for higher education institutions to follow in meeting the campus safety and security requirements of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. This handbook was developed by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • QuickSeries’ Campus Safety and The Clery Act pocket guides help students and institutional officials take an active role in campus safety.

Next: Approaches to Prevention

Implementing prevention strategies is a key component in creating a safe school environment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Sexual Violence on Campus: Strategies for Prevention and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) College Drinking Fact Sheet offer guiding principles in developing such strategies. Their frameworks could also be implemented across other areas (hazing, crime prevention, drug use, social media, etc.).

Takeaways from CDC

The five components that offer an opportunity to implement prevention efforts include the following:
  • Comprehensive prevention
  • Infrastructure
  • Audience
  • Partnerships and sustainability
  • Evaluation
Example actions to take for comprehensive prevention:
  • Implement prevention efforts across the social ecological model (individual, relationship, community and societal).
  • Use data to make decisions.
  • Employ a multisector approach.
  • Partner with community organizations and crisis centers.
CDC’s STOP SV acronym stands for: S: Promote social norms that protect against violence. T: Teach skills to prevent sexual violence. O: Provide opportunities to empower and support girls and women. P: Create protective environments. SV: Support victims/survivors to lessen harms.
Learn more about the Stop SV Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence or more about CDC’s strategies and framework for prevention.

Takeaways from NIAAA

NIAAA’s fact sheet reveals that successful efforts involve a mix of strategies that target:
  • Individual students
  • The student body as a whole
  • The college community as a whole
While these are broader classifications, this falls in line with CDC’s framework.
Strategies targeting individual students involve the following:
  • Looking at students in general and those in higher-risk groups (first-year students, student athletes, etc.)
  • Changing students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors
  • Incorporating education and awareness programs, feedback-related approaches and behavioral interventions by health professionals
Strategies targeting the campus and surrounding community are meant to change the campus and community environments.
NIAAA encourages using CollegeAIM for more information on individual- and environmental-level strategies for alcohol interventions. Institutional officials can use this Alcohol Intervention Matrix (AIM) to find the best combination of interventions for their students according to their budget and resources.   For more information on the products available to purchase for your students and institutional officials, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Campus Safety and The Clery Act – Creating Safer Campuses.