Making College Campuses Safer

A good friend of mine recently took his high school son on a tour of colleges he was thinking of attending. Invariably, when at a parent’s information session, a parent (usually a mother) would ask what the school is doing to ensure a safe campus.

The answer was predictable, “Well, we have a great campus police team that patrols the grounds regularly. We also have call boxes so that any student can call if they feel uncomfortable or threatened, and we recently installed an extensive outdoor lighting system. Finally, we offer valet pickup at night to take students to their dorms or cars if they wish”

Sadly, this does not take into account the intent-driven Cognitive Aggression better known as a “predator.” Predators look for easy prey; they will go where the campus is not lit; they will go where the campus police aren’t; in other words, none of these expensive systems will deter the committed predator.

It is the responsibility of these Institutions of Higher Education to create a safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff but are they making us safe or are the merely making us feel safe.  Imagine for a moment a school representative saying, “We have recently implemented the Campus Aggression Prevention System which is focused on preventing aggression rather than reacting to it. We felt it was important to get out in front of the issue, so we now have a Risk Management System (RMS) for observing, recording and evaluating those acts which are usually the precursor of more violent behavior, with a trained team of responders who can step in and take appropriate preventative measures.”   

The question of campus security is important not only to parents but also to professors, staff, and others who set foot on any campus for good reason. A College with CAPS has a real story to tell which distinguishes it from other schools who still think that better lighting, etc. is the answer. 


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