Parents across Pennsylvania and New Jersey are preparing to send their sons and daughters to college. It’s an exciting time in life for students and their parents. After all, there’s so much to think about and prepare for: dorm rooms, roommates, college classes, meal plans, school activities and clubs, and the list goes on and on.
In their first year of college, new students will enjoy unbridled freedom and will also face hard life decisions. The best thing parents can do is keep the lines of communication open and educate their kids. Below are three things parents should consider when speaking to their college students about college life.
1. Hazing & Bullying
With little oversight, college students may find themselves in tough situations. Hazing and bullying are serious issues in colleges across the country.
Individuals who engage in harassment or bullying often continue to do so in college. Victims of harassment or bullying often suffer academically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. For instance, a victim of harassment/bullying may be forced to withdraw during their first year of college due to severe acts of harassment/bullying. The long-term effects can be quite serious.
Many colleges and universities have policies and procedures in place to handle complaints of harassment or bullying. It is important for new college students to be aware of those policies and procedures. Also, students should have a plan of action in place should they witness harassment or bullying or become victims of such behavior.
2. Crime (Assault & Sexual Assault)
Colleges are not immune to crime. In fact, crimes such as assaults and sexual assaults occur both on and off campus. While most colleges and universities have official policies and procedures for handling criminal activities on and off campus, does your college student know what to do if they or a friend become victims of crime?
Assault and sexual assault at college is a major issue in this country. In fact just this year, the federal government began investigating several colleges throughout the country for their responses to reports of sexual assaults. There were multiple reports that colleges failed to respond appropriately to student reports of sexual violence and instead attempted to sweep the reports under the rug. In some instances, local law enforcement was never notified, and school administrators attempted to resolve the reports in house. Some victims reported that college administrators tried to coerce them into recanting.
Students who are entering college should be made aware of the problem of sexual abuse and assault at college and have a plan in place to respond to sexual violence, whether as a witness or a victim.
3. Alcohol & Drugs
Alcohol and drug use at college is one of the most important issues parents can talk to their college students about. Not only do incoming freshmen need to be aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug use, they should also be aware that criminal activity is often fueled by alcohol or drugs. Assaults and sexual assaults are often perpetrated while the victim is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether voluntary or not (i.e., via date rape drugs).
In addition, students who will eventually join a fraternity or sorority should be made aware of the dangers of hazing, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. Students around the country have died due to alcohol/drug overdoses and assaults committed during excessive hazing activities. For instance, a recent college freshman in NY died during a hazing event, and several fraternity members are expected to be charged with murder. Read more about that case and the problem of college hazing here.
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