After years of living under your roof, sending your child off to college for the first time can be a shock to the system. With so many horror stories about safety at universities, you may not only be mourning an empty nest, but also be worried about their wellbeing while they are away. While this is a great time for both you and your child to grow as different people, we understand that you will have inevitable nerves about them being alone. Thankfully, in today's society you can more "plugged in" than ever. With new technology and some simple steps, you can reduce your stress and anxiety over college safety.
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1. Stay Up to Date
You don’t have to be a college student to get alerts about what is going on around campus or if there are any emergencies. Ask your child’s university about how to sign up for text, email, and call alerts. These alerts will keep you informed on a variety of different situations from something as serious as robberies to inclement weather, or even a loss of power. You can also set up a Google Alert to inform you of any news on campus.
2. Grab Contacts
One of the most important numbers to have on you is your child’s roommate. While you shouldn’t call for any reason, contact them when there is an emergency as they most likely are closest person to your child to reach. You should also know the numbers of your student’s department, counselor, and any close friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. But beware! Use these numbers or emails in a case of a REAL emergency or risk losing trust.
3. Take a Safety Class with Them
A great activity to do with your student is a safety or self-defense course. Offered at many community centers and gyms, your student will leave feeling prepared and you will have gained a sense of empowerment to help in dangerous situations. Plus, going together can be a great way to open up the conversation on overall safety concerns you or they may have.
4. Set Up a Checkup Time
One of the hardest things a parent will have to do is to let go. Not seeing or hearing from your child every day can be frustrating and even upsetting, especially when you worry. Before your student goes to school, set up an amount of time you expect to be called or emailed. It should be reasonable, considering that they need their space and freedom as much as you need to know they are alright. Every other day is a great start, attempt to make it once a week by the end of the semester!
5. Give Them the Tools
When you’re packing for your student’s departure, you will probably want to go through a lecture of how to be safe and alert. The truth is that a lot of that information may go over their heads. Instead, gift them a safety box full of handy items. For example, pack a first aid kit, back up medications, phone numbers for doctors and family members, a list of campus resources (such as university police), and defense items such as pepper spray or safety whistles. Then, place it in a lockbox or safe that can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet. You’ll rest easy knowing that they have all that they need to be safe and secure while living and studying on campus.What are your biggest concerns about child safety? If you're a student, how do you help your parent stay calm? Let us know!