Empty Nesting: Preparing Your Child for College

August 7, 2019 @ 8:57 pm

preparing students for college safety blog

If you have a child who is preparing to attend college this fall, it’s important to talk about potential safety issues. While you may be facing the reality of an empty nest, your child is facing the task of navigating a new place and building a secure future, and external threats can hinder that. Whether your child will still live at home, find an off-campus apartment or live in a dorm, these are some areas to discuss.

Sexual Harassment, Stalking and Defamation

As a parent, you have probably read about sexual assault problems on college campuses and have shared advice about not accepting drinks at parties and other safety tips. Sexual harassment is also a problem that can affect a student’s psychological health. It can be in the form of text messages, verbal conversations or inappropriate gestures. Stalking can also be a problem, regardless of whether the stalker is an enemy or an admirer. Meanwhile, defamation may happen in the form of traumatizing verbal or written statements. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Encourage your teen to take pictures or videos of offenders when it is possible or safe to do so.
  • If your child is being stalked or sexually harassed, provide tips for reporting incidents to the authorities.
  • Tell your child that any shared information is safe with you and will be evaluated without judgment.
  • Let your child know that it may be unsafe to spend time alone with new friends, especially when it involves alcohol or going to new locations.

Hazing and Abuse

Abuse goes along with hazing, and both are still major problems on college campuses despite it being illegal in more than 40 states. These behaviors have led to injuries, psychological damage and even death for those involved. Recently, Louisiana adopted a new hazing law that will result in stricter penalties such as jail time and higher fines for offenders. Drugs and alcohol are often involved, and hazing goes beyond fraternities and sororities to sports teams, bands and other organizations.

Use these tips when talking to your child: 

  • Remind them that a drug conviction or a DUI can limit his or her employment opportunities in the future.
  • Encourage them to report suspicious or dangerous behavior to the university’s panhellenic board or local authorities, if warranted.
  • Ask them to thoroughly research any membership-based groups for sports, academics and social activities before joining.

Campus Injuries

Fortunately, many campuses have a medical clinic with at least a nurse or a nurse practitioner on duty. It is normal for students to get injuries from sports games and minor but careless accidents. However, some injuries may be the fault of others. These are some examples of common injuries on campus:

  • Construction projects that are careless with equipment and containment
  • Auto accidents in parking lots
  • Pedestrian or bicycle accidents because of distracted drivers
  • Falls due to poor lighting or disrepair of premises

When your child alerts you of hazing, stalking, defamation, sexual harassment or injuries of any kind, you can be an advocate to stop the situation. If your child sustains an injury, ask questions to determine if it may be the fault of the campus, a construction contractor or another student. Your child may be entitled to compensation if there are physical injuries or if there is personal property damage.

If you would like to learn more about premises law and negligence or determine whether your child has a potential case, please contact Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik.