When it comes to college safety, most parents and grandparents don’t like to think about it — even though American students face an escalating wave of campus crime, including rapes and deadly attacks by active shooters.
There is no middle ground when it comes to protecting the lives of your children and grandchildren on college campuses. It’s all or nothing. You have either prepared them or you have not. In a life-or-death situation, your children can only survive or not.
Your children and grandchildren are at serious risk. Just look at the statistics: One-in-five students is sexually assaulted during college. In 90% of rape cases, the attacker is acquainted with the victim. And the average perpetrator has committed multiple sexual assaults.
Did you know that only about 5% of these rape cases ever get reported? And women aren’t the only victims. In 10% of the cases, men have been sexually assaulted!
And these stats only show the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violent crimes on college campuses, including murders, aggravated assaults, stalkings, robberies, and kidnappings.
College campuses may appear safe – but too often they’re hotbeds of violent crimes that threaten students’ safety and lives.
Don’t buy into the myth of safety on campus
College and university administrators do everything in their power to promote the image of their school as a safe place for our teens and early 20-somethings.
They desperately want to protect their school’s reputation so they don’t lose new students, alumni donations, or grants from charities and government agencies. They’re also afraid of losing their status in the educational community. But more than anything, they’re worried about lawsuits.
So these administrators bully students into dropping charges and sometimes even coerce them into not even reporting the crime to the cops. Sometimes they convince students to back down by depicting them as the "bad guy" or the "bad gal" for trying to sully their school’s reputation. Sometimes they actually blame the victims to divert responsibility away from the administration.
And if a student’s family should sue, they will attempt to buy the victim’s silence with a settlement that has a gag-order attached.
Is your child at risk?
As we all know, criminals play by their own rules. They strike at the most opportune time for them, when their victims least expect it. In most reported cases, the students never saw the threat until it was too late.
That’s why I developed a College Safety Prep program, which teaches students that the best way to stay safe is by using their most powerful "weapon" — their brain!
You should teach your son or daughter to dodge a threatening situation. In my class, we give our students a blueprint on how to recognize danger, how to avoid it when possible, how to evade danger when they cannot avoid it and how to counter when it’s absolutely necessary to defend themselves.
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What can you tell your child about fighting back?
When attacked, your child’s first thought will most likely be, "This can’t be happening to me." The horror is so unimaginable that his or her mind retreats into a state of denial. This is perfectly normal.
But, you must prepare your boy or girl for when the unimaginable happens because their body can save them when fear triggers the fight-or-flight response. This is both natural and good.
The fight-or-flight response activates psycho-physiological responses, which may help them survive the incident. The response includes a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline, epinephrine, estrogen and testosterone as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
For a short time, these biochemicals will give your child extra strength and endurance plus an increased tolerance for pain. They can also help your child’s mind better focus on finding a way to defeat or escape an attacker.
This means that when your child is attacked, he or she must be ready to push aside panic and denial so they can take advantage of these heightened physical powers while they last.
Long before children face mortal danger, he or she must be totally committed to a fight to the death — in mind, body and spirit. You must assure them that it’s OK to do whatever they need to do in order to survive so they can come home safe to their family and loved ones.
Next, you may want to explain to them that most people are good at heart and follow a personal moral compass. And that their compasses usually have lines that they rarely, if ever, cross.
However, when our kids’ lives are on the line, they may have to move some lines on their personal compass to survive. This may mean deciding to fight or deciding to kill rather than be killed.
But we should always stress to our kids that it could also mean deciding to submit to the attack if they believe it’s the best way to avoid serious injury or worse.
However, make it clear to them that the moment they believe that their life is in danger, they must fight back. And make sure they understand their normal instinct to simply defend will not be enough.
Tell them that they cannot win this fight by yelling or screaming at the attacker like so many self-defense instructors have taught in the past. It would be nearly impossible for them to go from mild-mannered student to one of the Avengers in a heartbeat.
And yet this is the mindset that is demanded of them. Yes, they must be preprogrammed to adopt the "survival mindset" if they’re confronted by a violent thug or a gang.
What is the survival mindset? And what do I tell my child?
The survival mindset is a state of mental readiness that allows you to survive and win in a crisis. It is turning your worst fears into your greatest strengths. It is accepting a bad situation for what it is immediately and without denial so that you can act instantly to save yourself and anyone with you.
Make sure your kids understand that bad situations can quickly go from ugly to treacherous to seemingly hopeless. But no matter what, they have a chance to carry on if they tap into the secret weapon they were born with and then hold on with all their might — the indomitable human spirit, the deep desire to live.
With this advice, you have given them a foundation to face the criminal challenges that lie ahead. Now give them the professional education they need to stay safe and protect themselves!
Let’s work together right now for a safer, more productive college experience for our children.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!