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Violence on Campus: What Schools Can Do

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 2/17/2011

How can schools prevent violence on campus? This article provides a primer on the different ways for colleges to prevent violence, which include technology, education and support.

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    In the wake of several shootings on college campuses such as Virginia Tech, the topic of violence prevention is gaining prominence. Parents, and students, in particular, are very interested in finding out how schools can prevent violence on campus. Although shootings get the most publicity, the issue of on-campus violence extends far beyond these isolated incidents. Schools are currently implementing procedures to deal with sexual assault, hazing, robberies, and fights. Through intelligent use of technology and support groups, as well as coordination with local police, many schools have been successful in reducing campus violence.

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    Technology Solutions

    Video Surveillance

    Many colleges and high schools around the world have begun to adapt technology to the purpose of preventing and resolving crimes. By installing video cameras at key points around campuses, schools hope to discourage would-be attackers from striking. In the event that a crime does occur, the video can be forwarded to the authorities, who can than use it to locate the suspect. The likelihood of being caught will, it is hoped, discourage criminals from acting on campus.

    Emergency Phones

    Emergency phones are another option that is being installed in increasing numbers around the country. These phones have a direct line to the police or other emergency responders, and are typically lit up with a blue light for nighttime visibility. If a student is being harassed or feels in danger, they can quickly access the phone and police will be dispatched immediately.

    emergency phone Image: Flickr - Antelope Valley College

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    Increasing Dorm Security

    Another way that schools can prevent violence on campus is by making sure it never occurs in the first place. Since sexual assault on campus is a major issue, preventing assaults is a top priority for college administrators. One way this is done is by locking dormitories and requiring keycard access to get in. This prevents unauthorized persons from entering and committing theft or sexual assault. In addition, a number of schools require students to sign in as they enter. This eliminates the problem of "tailgating," in which a stranger is able to follow a student into the dorms before the door closes.

    Raising Awareness

    Unfortunately, strangers are not the only people who commit sexual assault. In fact, a large percentage of assaults take place at parties between acquaintances or friends. One way that colleges can prevent sexual assault is by raising awareness among students about what constitutes assault, as well as ways to protect oneself. A number of colleges hold sexual assault awareness meetings for incoming freshmen. In addition, some schools hold rape awareness weeks or talks. These are often hosted by groups such as One in Four, which aims to prevent rape by educating men about sexual assault.

    Preventing Hazing

    Hazing was once a major source of violence on sports teams and fraternities. Because of its nature, hazing on college campuses is rarely reported, making it difficult for colleges to crack down on this practice. In response, colleges have implemented harsh penalties for hazing, including the removal of any fraternity found guilty of hazing. They also seek to educate athletes and fraternity brothers about hazing and encourage them to report any untoward behavior.

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    Although many people tend to think only of rare shootings when they hear about college violence, in reality sexual assault and hazing are much more commonplace. Through the thoughtful implementation of the above procedures, many colleges have been able to substantially reduce occurrences of on-campus violence. Rather than using just one solution, colleges should implement a number of solutions - both technological and personal - in order to prevent violence on college campuses.

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    One In Four Website-

    Example of Emergency Phones: CU-Boulder Police-

    Educating to Eliminate Hazing-