How can girls stay safe, particularly when they leave home for college

Girls leaving home for college

There’s a different awareness that comes when you’re a girl. It’s not about paranoia or irrational fears; it’s a real and healthy alertness, because there are people who like to prey on us girls.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Hang out in groups. Start with group outings, especially during your first few weeks of college and any time you’re making new friends. There is safety in numbers! Even after you’ve been at school for a while, bring a trusted friend with you to new situations.

2. Be aware of your environment. It’s easy to accidentally end up in risky situations, such as needing a ride home and the only person offering is someone you don’t know well; walking alone in the dark in an unfamiliar area; or being alone in a dorm room with someone you don’t know well. Plan ahead and (when possible) bring your friends, so you don’t end up in a risky situation.

3. Watch your drinks. Even if you’re only drinking water or soda at a get-together, someone can slip a roofie (a drug that knocks you out) into your drink. Don’t leave your drink with someone you don’t know well and trust fully, and definitely don’t leave your drink alone if you plan on finishing it.

4. Let new friends earn your trust. Earning trust takes time, and if someone is going to be a true friend, they’ll understand that. Don’t automatically give your trust to someone just because they seem nice or friendly. Often perpetrators of crimes are people you feel comfortable with immediately, rather than the creepy but harmless “stalkers” down the hall (or the creepy drivers of cars who stalk you on side streets). Sometimes crimes are even committed by friends of friends. Make sure you know and trust a person if you’ll be hanging out one-on-one; don’t just take someone’s word for it.

How do you know if someone has earned your trust? If a person is trustworthy, they won’t be pushy. If you’ve just met someone and they’re pushing you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, then they just want something from you; they don’t actually care about you. Over time, you can find out a person’s character. The way they treat other people can give you hints from the start (are they respectful to authority, kind to people they find annoying, interested in protecting you rather than using you?), but character can only be tested over time.

5. If you’re worried, tell an adult. If you feel uncomfortable, even if you don’t know why, let someone know. This might mean calling Campus Safety for a ride back to your room, getting in touch with your parents, finding your RA or talking with another staff/faculty member that you trust. Share your concerns with the adult you choose.

6. Trust in the Lord. In Psalm 91, David calls God his “defender and protector,” the One in whom he trusts. It’s important to plan ahead to stay safe, but ultimately, God is our protector.

I don’t want this article to sound scary. College is the most incredible and life-changing experience, jam-packed full of opportunities to experience new adventures, gain new skills, and make friends! Embrace it all; live it to the fullest. Just keep these tips in mind to help you stay safe as you do so.
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