LEWISTOWN - The years you spend in college are designed to prepare you for your future. It will be a busy time for you with classes, homework and social functions. In fact, you may find yourself so busy that it is hard to focus on anything else. However, it is always important to remember where you are. You may be on a campus with several thousand fellow students, some of whom are looking for an opportunity to victimize someone.
When I attended college in the late seventies, the last thing that crossed my mind was being a victim of violent crime.
But in today's society, where the crime rate is rising on college campuses across the country, everyone must understand and learn about the possibility of becoming a victim of crime.
Your college years will most likely be some of the most memorable in your life, so it is important for you to invest a little time in common sense crime prevention and keeping yourself safe on campus.
You will be learn many things in college; among them, you should learn how not to become a victim of campus crime. Criminals are always on the lookout for easy targets: people who seem unsure of themselves, timid or unable to fight back.
Tips to avoid crime
Whenever you are out, always be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you don't look like an easy target. Avoid areas where criminals can hide, and walk quickly and confidently. Make brief eye contact with people you pass and walk with confidence and purpose. Never look like an easy target.
You should always know where security is located on campus. Find out the phone number for campus security or police, and put it in your cell phone. When you drive anywhere on or off campus, be sure to park in well lit areas. Avoid dark and isolated streets and garages. If possible, choose a parking lot that is monitored by a security guard.
Whenever you leave your car, always lock it. You may plan to be right back, but it only takes a minute for someone to open your door and get in.
Never leave personal items in plain view in your car. Valuables and other goods that are displayed on the seats of your automobile will tempt criminals to break in and steal them.
When you return to your vehicle, have your keys in your hand and be ready to get into the car right away. Once in, make sure the doors are locked and drive off as soon as possible. If a stranger approaches your car, do not get out for them, and never let them inside your vehicle. Offer to call the police if the person claims to be in need of help, and drive away if they will not leave you alone.
Work with other students. Your friends and other college students can help each other by working together to avoid crime. Walk in groups instead of alone, especially at night. Arrange for others to walk to classes with you. A criminal is far less likely to attack a group of people. They usually look for someone who is alone.
Get to know the people in your dormitory. Start your own Crime Watch group to help within the dorm. Work together to watch for people who should not be in your building, people who are loitering and anyone who is acting suspiciously. When people are watching out for each other, it helps to keep everyone safe.
Have everyone write down a list of emergency contact numbers, such as the home or cell phone number of a parent or trusted relative. Keep the list of numbers in a safe place where it can be easily found if needed. Keep the doors leading into your dormitory locked at all times.
Protect your possessions. When you live in a dorm you may have cash, jewelry, iPods, or other valuables in your room. It is a great idea to keep these smaller items hidden and secure at all times to avoid theft. A thief will usually only remain inside a dorm room for a few minutes, so the better you have your valuables hidden, the more likely it is they will not be stolen.
Here are a few more crime tips to keep you safe on campus:
Be aware at all times.
Walk in groups, especially at night; avoid traveling alone.
Keep your dorm room and any other room you are in locked.
Program the campus police and security numbers in your cell phone.
Do not accept rides from strangers or casual acquaintances.
Don't pick up hitch-hikers.
Do not study in poorly lit or secluded areas.
Be careful when using bathroom facilities when no one else is around, especially at night.
Don't wait to report suspicious activity; report it immediately to police.
If you follow these simple safety tips and use common sense decision making, there is a very good chance you will survive your college years without becoming a victim of serious or violent crime.
Don't forget to let your parents in on the steps you will take to protect yourself on campus. It will help put their minds at ease knowing you are taking steps to protect yourself at school.
Have a great school year everyone!
Chuck Dicken is the Community Watch coordinator for Mifflin County Communities That Care. He can be reached by calling 248-5692.