A Letter to Parents Sending Their Kids to College
I am sure that this can be a bittersweet time for you. Sending your beloved children off to college can be exciting as you see something they have worked so hard towards come to fruition. It could also feel liberating that you may have some more free time on your hands and at the same time you may feel sad because you will miss them so much.
While you shop for the extra-long bed sheets and stock up on snacks try to set aside time to talk to your kid about his or her safety while at school. As a parent, it’s your job to teach them about personal safety now that they are leaving the nest, because most likely their new school will not.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on how to prepare your kids to be safe and confident while still enjoying themselves at school:
1. Talk to kids about sexual assault
Whether you have a son or daughter, having a conversation about the difference between consensual sex and anything else is important. According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), college aged women are at a higher risk of sexual assault than women of any other age group. In fact, 23.1 percent of female and 2.2 percent of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The most disturbing fact is that many assaults go unreported, which means the statistics are probably higher than reported.
2. Talk about safe partying
Since many incidents involve alcohol and incapacitation, speak to kids about setting safe limits on alcohol use. Teach them how blacking out can occur without any physical warnings and how to keep their drinks safe from being spiked.
In my book, Hear Me Roar: how to defend your mind, body and heart against people who suck, I wrote the 10 Cocktail Commandments to help people of any age manage their liquor including:
- Never drink on an empty stomach
- Watch when your drink is being prepared
- Keep your eyes on your drink at all times. (Yes, that means taking it to the bathroom with you)
- Have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink to avoid dehydration and quicker intoxication.
Another great tip for safe partying is to always head out in a group and make sure that same group heads home together. If one member of the group can stay sober and be the eyes and ears for the group, even better. I’ve had sorority women tell me that person is called the “party mom”.
3. Send them off with a safety kit
Yes, snacks and a cozy comforter are nice but sending your kids off to school with a curated personal safety kit could actually help keep them safe from harm and able to protect themselves.
A first aid kit is an essential for any safety kit. A good safety kit should have all of the essential bandages, alcohol swabs, anti-bacterial ointments, cold medicine or vitamins, some anti-inflammatories and a scissor.
A Mace Brand personal alarm is something to definitely include for your student to keep on his/her keychain when out and about to set off if ever in a vulnerable situation.
Date rape drug detector strips are available online and great to add to your safety kit for your son or daughter to detect if their drink has been spiked.
Mace Brand pepper spray would be my last essential item for your safety kit to arm your student when alone, in a new town or city, driving or walking to and from work, classes or parties. You can never be too prepared.
Chances are your new student will be just fine and will stay safe throughout their college years as they learn how to fend for themselves and develop better street smarts. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and empower your kids to take personal safety into their own hands!
Cheers and good luck to you all,