5 College Safety Musts to Discuss with Your Daughter

You thought this moment would never come, or at least you hoped that it wouldn’t.

How can it be that your precious baby is now heading off to college???? It doesn’t seem possible, but there you are buying the necessary items for the dorm room, helping her register, arranging those last minute finance issues (!), and preparing to drop off your little chick at the big campus. You will no longer be able to cast a watchful eye and maintain the same kind of vigilance as you have done since the day she was born. Suddenly, it is all in your young one’s hands—they are in charge of their daily decisions, and you can only hope and pray from a distance for their health, happiness and safety. So, now is the best time to have one of those serious conversations with your “little” bundle of joy. Even if you have discussed security issues with your child—which we should all be doing on a fairly regular basis in order to teach them what to look out for—it bears repeating one more time in the context of college life and the new freedoms your child will be encountering from this moment onward.

Top 5 Tips to Help Your Daughter Prepare for College:

CONTACT NUMBERS. In addition to 911, identify the college campus security phone number and pre-program that phone number into both of your phones. Make sure you (the parent) have a secondary phone number that will enable you to locate your child if their phone doesn’t work: that could include her roommates and/or college advisor’s phone numbers. When you are dealing with matters of security, you always want to have back-ups to back-ups.

SECURITY HABITS: DOORS AND LOCKS. Ensure your daughter understands the importance of this very basic habit: Lock your doors. This includes when she is there in the dorm room or apartment, as well as when she is away. Ensure that she also locks car doors, windows, sliding glass doors, etc. This is a MUST. Many college attacks by intruders occurred when someone forgot to lock a door or left a window open.

CONDUCT A WALK THROUGH. Walk your daughter around her new living quarters and point out vulnerabilities, and things they need to pay attention to. There is so much newness involved in starting college that a strategic walk-through of her new surroundings will help her look at her environment from a security perspective. Walk-through various parking situations to be sure she knows how and where to walk—during daylight as well as night time hours so she knows how to best navigate the campus.

DODGY PEOPLE. At some point, on or off campus, she is going to encounter dodgy looking people or “normal” looking people who are ‘out of place.’  She will know from their behavior whether they are a concern or not—her intuition will drive this “knowing.” Teach her to not second-guess herself.  There is one immediate thing any of us can do if we are feeling the heat from someone, as I did in a local mall yesterday: look the person in the eye. This may sound trite but it is EXTREMELY effective. I have used it with potential thugs in the United States and security threats in my Middle Eastern neighborhoods that were teeming with terrorists looking for easy targets. By acknowledging that you see the dodgy person and clearly indicating that their presence is known to you, you take away the element of a surprise, which reduces their power and decreases their resolve to target you. Bad guys prefer easy targets, so if you look like a force to be reckoned with, they’ll think twice.  EYEBALL the bad guy, and they will tuck their tail between their legs and go elsewhere, as the potential thief did yesterday. I had sunglasses on, so I slid my glasses down my nose, turned around and glared at him, as I noticed him following me through the mall towards the mall exit (even though I had changed directions a couple of times—he stayed with me). He wasn’t going to get my handbag as several women have lately experienced in Florida parking lots. The moment I cast a quick glance at the young chap, he backed right off.

THE ONE BOOK YOU SHOULD BOTH READ. Do not send your daughter to college without having her read, The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It is not a scary read, but is empowering and educational. Per de Becker’s web site, the book draws on his extensive expertise to “explode the myth that most violent acts are random and unpredictable and shows that they usually have discernible motives and are preceded by clear warning signs.”

Readers will learn how to:

    • Recognize the survival signals that warn us about risk from strangers
    • Rely on their intuition
    • Separate real from imagined danger
    • Predict dangerous behavior
    • Evaluate whether someone will use violence
    • Move beyond denial so that their intuition works for them

This book contains excellent, easy to understand information about how to identify risks and respond to them accordingly. The Gift of Fear is available on Amazon.com.

Categories: Women's Issues + Awareness

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Michele Rigby Assad

After obtaining a masters degree in Arab Studies at Georgetown University, Michele applied—along with hundreds of others from the university--to work for the CIA. After a long and grueling hiring process and a year of intensive training, she became an intelligence officer for the National Clandestine Service, the covert (operational) arm of the Agency. Serving for a decade as a counterterrorism officer, Michele worked in all of the awful places you hope you’ll never visit, including Iraq during the height of the war. To date, Michele has traveled to 45 countries, lived in six of those, and has a lot of crazy stories to tell about life overseas. While working for the CIA, Michele initially decried the traits that made her different from senior male officers, but later realized that these traits were what made her a great intelligence officer (empathy, intuition, strong interpersonal skills). Now she’s on a mission to show women that they have the elements to be a Femme Fatale—the incredibly intelligent and operationally astute woman that gets stuff done. After years of service to her country, Michele has left the undercover life behind and now works as an international management consultant focused on Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. She has a more “normal” life now and a lot more time to do the things she loves: writing, cooking, traveling for pleasure, walking on the beach—and most of all, inspiring others!

One Comment
  1. great advice! Young women need to learn to not put themselves in dangerous or vulnerable situations – e.g. getting drunk at parties, walking alone, etc. In volunteering with college students, most of the incidents we see are because someone made poor choices – not the victim’s fault, BUT could have been avoided with better choices.

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