Whit’s End: Warning Daughter About Urban Campus Safety

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Hi, Whit:

The relatively recent attacks or assaults against students that have been reported in the city and the surrounding area have me really nervous about my daughter who is considering going to a college in an urban setting. As responsible, but not helicopter parents, my wife and I want to help her avoid being the victim of a crime. Is there anything we can do short of telling her that she needs to go to a college in a safer, non-urban environment?

Worried Parents

Dear Worried: First, you can tell her not getting “trashed” is the best way to avoid crime in any setting, urban or non-urban, college or not. To be safe in any environment, every person needs to be cautious and alert to keep from being vulnerable to an attack. To women in particular my advice is not to ingest any substance that lowers inhibition or awareness because predators lurking in the shadows are unfortunately not just in fairy tales and not necessarily in the dark.

Although I do not know for certain whether she was high or drunk, a Towson University student was allegedly gang-raped at Johns Hopkins last year. Recently, my wife and I saw another female student wandering off-campus in the vicinity of the school and she was so intoxicated that she did not respond in any way to questions about her identity or condition. If she had been discovered by people who had not been concerned about her welfare, she could have ended up raped or murdered or both.

Go online yourself, then have your daughter do the same to see what she can find out about sexual assaults or any kind of attacks in college environments as a way to ratchet up her alert systems. She must be careful about what she does and with whom she does it. Whether she is in an urban, suburban, or rural setting, your daughter needs to be vigilant in not making herself an easy target. Put this question to her: “Who would have thought Charlottesville was a dangerous place?”

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