In the past two weeks I’ve had a brother in-law and a sister-in law start college. I also had a brother who graduated from college, but he was on the 8-year plan (and no, he’s not a doctor.) For the two who were starting college it got me thinking just how vulnerable college students are and what they can do to better protect themselves… So I shared with them the following advice, which I’m sure they’ll ignore:
First off, if they can (and are responsible enough) they should have a gun. In Utah, where my brother and brother in-law attend college, they are allowed to carry concealed on campus. With all that’s occurred on college campuses these last few years I don’t have to tell you why it’s a good idea to carry concealed there. Even if they don’t want to carry everyday they should still have a gun in their apartment for home defense.
Now, if your kids go to a school where they can’t have a gun, but they live in off campus housing, then again, they should have a gun in their house. Of course, make sure they’ve had training with it and know how to properly manipulate and shoot the gun.
For those who don’t go to college in Utah, Virginia or any other place where you’re allowed to carry on campus then they need other tools to protect themselves. One of my favorites, if not my favorite, is the tactical pen. You can carry it anytime, anywhere and if your child knows how to properly strike with it, it can cause some serious damage. I’m not a fan of pepper spray or tasers because there’s just too much that can go wrong with them.
Also, you need to give your child a situational awareness speech.
If you have a daughter it’s a short one and goes like this: “Do not trust any boy no matter what he says to you. It’s all lies and he’s the scum of the earth.” If you have a son, it goes like this: “Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t have your head buried in your cell phone, be careful at parties, don’t go out alone at night, etc. etc. etc.”
By the way, do you know how Ted Bundy used to get young women into his car to murder them? Ted would walk around with a cast on and when a young woman was around he would “accidentally” drop his keys. When the woman bent over to pick them up he would knock them out with his cast. (The moral of the story is to tell your kids to be very suspicious of all people. If a boy happens to knock on your daughter’s door at 3am and it’s an “emergency” she shouldn’t open the door. She should call the police for him through the door. I know this is common sense to you and me, but it’s not to most college kids.)
Also, I know this is next to impossible, but if you could tell your college kid not to drink, that would lower their risk of harm significantly. I don’t drink and neither do my brother or my in-laws so I don’t have to worry about that with them. But here’s just one sampling of the many horrible things that happen from college drinking. (The following is from a study done by Wayne State University.)
“A college student who participated in one of our studies explained how she agreed to go back to her date’s home after a party: “We played quarter bounce (a drinking game). I got sick drunk; I was slumped over the toilet vomiting. He grabbed me and dragged me into his room and raped me. I had been a virgin and felt it was all my fault for going back to his house when no one else was home.”
Obviously that’s horrible but it happens thousands of times a year on college campuses across the nation.
Two more quick tips for your college kid: First, I remember many of my female friends not understanding that having the oil light on in their car was a bad thing or that air in a tire was pretty important. In other words, college kids are lazy about car maintenance so make sure they are taking care of it. The last thing you want to have happen is to have their car break down at night on some back road in the middle of nowhere as they drive home to see you.
Second, have them get a door stop alarm for their dorm room. I love these alarms and have several myself that I use. (They’re great for hotels.) Just Google “Door Stop Alarm” and you’ll see what I mean.
The bottom line is, predators know that college kids and college campuses are easy targets. After all, just think about how you and I felt “invincible” when we were that age and how we weren’t afraid of anything. So, if you’ve got a kid just starting college or heading to college next year I hope you’ll sit down with them and have a long chat. I also hope you’ll arm them with as many protection tools as possible… and if they don’t know how to shoot a gun yet, then you should spend some quality time with your kid next weekend at the shooting range.