RAINN's 2008 Back-To-School Tips for Students

August 20, 2008 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, today released helpful safety tips for college students going back to school. While heading back to school is an exciting time, there are nonetheless risks involved when entering into an unfamiliar environment filled with new people. College aged women are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted. Being aware of this risk is often the first step in staying safe.

“The university setting is a unique environment that can foster a false sense of community and security. Almost two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim, that’s why it’s critical for students to be aware of their surroundings and peers,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “There are some very basic steps students can take to maximize safety. Knowing how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations can help to reduce the risk of sexual assault, both on campus and off campus.”

RAINN's Top 10 Back-To-School Tips include:

  1. Get to know your surroundings and learn a well-lit route back to your dorm or place of residence. If you are new to the campus, familiarize yourself with the campus map and know where the emergency phones are.
  2. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you see something suspicious, contact your resident assistant or campus police immediately.
  3. Avoid being alone or isolated with someone you don't know well. Let a trusted friend know where you are and whom you are with.
  4. Be careful when leaving online away messages. Leaving information about your whereabouts or activities reveals details of your location that are accessible to everyone.
  5. Try not to go out alone at night. Have a buddy system in place with your roommate or with someone you trust. Avoid the ATM and jogging at night.
  6. Keep the phone numbers of both your campus escort service as well as the campus police with you at all times.
  7. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust and never leave your drink unattended.
  8. Always watch your drink being prepared. Try to get your drink directly from the bartender or waiter.
  9. Never loan your room key to anyone and always lock your door.
  10. Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone or at night.

Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines at 800.656.HOPE, and online at rainn.org.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and rainn.org) in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.2 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.

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