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Campus Violence

Encouraging the Prevention of Campus Violence

 Heading off to college is an exciting time for millions of recent high school graduates. College represents a new environment, new experiences, new people, and is an important step in the life of many individuals.

However, as news nowadays are overfilled with the examples of violence in colleges and universities that range from mass shootings to incidents of rape, assault, burglary, etc., parents and education professionals are becoming more concerned about the atmosphere in which students are bound to spend several years of their college life.

Over the past decades, there have been reports of increased violence on U.S. college campuses, particularly sexual assaults, and the numbers of victims continue to rise . Although awareness of campus sexual assault is at historic high, institutional responses to incidents of sexual violence remain widely varied and often, dissatisfied and imperfect.

Not only that, campus crimes associated with college and university students were neither reported to authorities nor were they disclosed to outsiders by institutions. Though numerous measures have been undertaken to prevent and decrease the rate of modern campus crimes, such efforts failed to recognize the importance of crime-mapping research and self-defense program; the implementation of these programs should be advocated for to inform and protect college students.

Over the years, campus violence has experienced substantial change and is defined by various implications, in terms of legal, social, and security context. It was first theorized that universities have a liability to ensure the safety of their students under the idea of loco parent is, in which universities are given the freedom to create and enforce any rules or regulations upon student conducts.

Following many lawsuits filed by students and parents, the courts ruled that universities have a duty to protect students from foreseeable criminal activity and that there exist a contract between the universities and their students. Many legislation are then passed to ensure that universities are educating their students about dangerous behaviors and warn students about unsafe conditions on or near the campus. The first legislation, requiring posts econdary institutions to report crimes to campus police and other authorities annually, was the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security, in 1998, which is later known as the Clery Act.

he Clery Act continues to be amended through the addition of more detailed crime reports and statistics, and stricter enforcement is levied to universities for their failure to follow and demonstrate correct interpretations of the law. The Act was passed primarily in response to the issue of under-reporting of crimes associated with their students by colleges. After the Clery Act comes the passing of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, an influential federal legislation that encourages colleges to address sexual violence and prohibits sexual harassment on campuses. Colleges who fail to comply with these policies are entitled to legal consequences.

The social implications of campus violence have always been linked towards the conceptions of early forms of sexism and gender stratification and the use of drugs and alcohol on campus. Traditional society is defined as patriarchal, where men are placed on top of the social ladder while women remain at the bottom. Socialization and sex role stereotypes have altered modern rape culture of colleges and universities.

Violence against women by men is responded to generally in a manner that either blames women for the violence done to them or focuses on prevention strategies that identify how women can better protect themselves. It is even more severe in the case of media coverage. On average, women are only represented 20% of the time in stories and news related to incidents occurred on campus and are often blamed for being victimized in rape stories.

These stories portray women as vindictive, conniving, and untrustworthy. The sensationalization of sexual violence and the normalization of rape jokes and any act of sexual harassment have decreased the negativity of sex crime and are a factor of the increasing rates of sexual violence on campus. Also, the increase of drug and alcohol usage also correlates to the increase in offenses. It is shown in many studies that college students, especially those that live in wet communities, filled with bars, liquor stores, and other alcohol outlets, have greater use of alcohol and other drugs than other youths in society.

The National Crime Victimization Survey
shows that roughly 40 percent of offenders were perceived to be using alcohol or drugs and the use of date-rape drugs such as Rohypnol, or roofies, are particularly popular among sexual predators .

About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (Fisher and Sloan 186-214).

As a continually developing country, technological advancement and the creation of campus police force also influence the characteristic of campus violence, both positively and negatively. Due to the advancement of technologies, such as the introduction of CCTVs, or surveillance cameras, many campus securities have been amended and upgrade to ensure higher levels of security, in hopes to speed up the crime investigation process, increase the arrest rate, and prevent future crimes from happening . However, the advancement of technology also introduces high-tech crime, cyber crime, to the campuses.

The most common cyber stalking involves the active use of the web and other internet communication portals, such as Facebook , Myspace, Twitter, and online dating sites. Cyber stalking can be as dangerous as physical stalking and can affect the victims similarly, leading to mental distress and increased levels of anxiety. Cyber crime is not only easier to commit due to the instant access to social media, but also harder to evade and control, comparing to other forms of crimes.

For this issue, the most applicable ethical approach is the Rights Approach. The Rights Approach puts an emphasis on the solution that best respects the rights of all the stakeholders represented by this issue. The stakeholders have the rights to be informed and told the truth and the right to not be injured. Over the course of the years, colleges and universities and the government attempted to fix the problem of campus violence by proposing different methods and solutions to the problem. The government enforces the Clery Act and Title IX upon universities in hope to control and reduce the amount of violence committed on campus and raise legal awareness. Universities and practitioners also develop multiple tiers of prevention methods and programs in hope to stop the increasing rate of campus violence.

The majority of the times, universities focus their attention on tertiary prevention methods, which are methods that are put in place to deal with the consequences of the incidents already happened on campus. They set up remedial programs and supportive services that target post-trauma counseling, protection, medical care, etc., to help relieve the consequences and effects those violent events have on the students.

Efforts put toward educating faculty, staffs, administrators, and students about campus violence and prevention, and raising awareness of the concurrent issue, have also been exerted and come in the form of existing courses in universities, including the fields of sociology, psychology, criminology, and women studies.

Primary prevention methods, including skill-building workshops, such as self-esteem building, values development, sexual decision making, anger and stress management, conflict and loss resolution, self-defense training, etc., and programs that encourage individuals to explore their attitudes about the factors that lead to violence, have great potential in educating the students and preventing any sorts of campus violence from happening in the first place.

The amygdala within the brain react violently when a trauma occurs and recollections are etched deeply in the mind of individuals forever . Although the arrest of the offenders and post-trauma counseling offer support and justice to the victim, but they do not erase the scars and traumas gained from the violence.

For this reason, it is reasonable that further research in crime mapping studies and self-defense programs is necessary for the prevention of those crimes. Programs that include researchers to analyze crime patterns and behaviors should be established and run by a governmental agency at the local level. The purpose of crime mapping studies is to help researchers, officers, and universities to have a better understanding of the crimes themselves, the patterns they follow, and the location of crime hot spots, and better identify individuals that are more likely to commit an offense or to be at risk of victimization.

This will not only inform the students and administrators of this knowledge, but also allow police officers and universities’ administrators to be more alert and formulate better methods for campus crime prevention, increasing the likeliness of prevention while decreasing the rates of offenses. If campus administrators made crime maps publicly available, students, especially incoming freshmen and transfer students new to the area, would be better equipped to find housing in safer locations and prepared for when visiting local crime hot spots. After all, students have the right to be informed about the safety and conditions of the campus.

However, crime mapping studies are greatly disrupted by the insufficient and inaccurate data on available campus crimes, provided by the universities. Campus crimes occur on both on and off campus and yet, crimes involving students off campus or in off-campus student housing are not included and reported to the federally mandated campus safety reports, despite the passing of the Clery Act. By not including all students living off-campus in their crime reports, university is only portraying a small portion of the crimes in an area where a large percentage of students live, which makes it difficult to track and model accurate crime patterns and behaviors.

A better enforcement of the Clery Act is needed and universities must be required to disclose and report any crimes involving their students, whether they happen on campus or off-campus. Any infringements will result in legal consequences, such as heavy fines and monetary restrictions, in terms of federal and state funding. Data and statistics on crimes relating to students taken from local police records should be provided to universities; the profiles of the offenders and victims are to be kept anonymous with respect to legal and ethical aspects.

Besides an improvement in crime mapping studies, an updated self-defense program is also needed. Self-defense training allows students and faculties to learn self-defense techniques and protect themselves against physical, emotional, and psychological assaults (Dekeseredy 335). Knowing self-defense can help victims delay the happenings of the crimes while buying them more time to contact the police, which will increase the chance of safely walking away from the crimes.

University students are entitled to the right to equal protection and the right to not be injured. Self-defense programs should not also put so much emphasis on protection against strangers, but rather pay attention to the people most likely to assault them, including intimate partners (courtship violence), friends, and acquaintances.

University can hold public lectures that can help students learn the right way to prevent and deal with those unexpected situations, involving not just strangers, but also the surrounding people, with the help of counselor and faculty. Students should be educated on the recognition and signs of red flags that can lead to dangerous unwanted situations. With the joint efforts of local police and university faculty and administrators on teaching self-defense techniques and educating students of dangerous situations, it is more likely for this method to sustain and have a definite effect on the prevention of campus violence.

As discussed, campus violence has a long history and are defined by multiple contexts. The consistent and increasing rates of campus violence remained a major concern for many. Through an improvement in self-defense program and extensive research in the crime-mapping field, it is anticipated that the prevention of these crimes will increase and the number of future crimes will slowly, but surely be reduced.

Many crime mapping programs and studies have already been authorized and adopted by state and local government and so, only an extension of that effort is needed in the direction college campus violence for the program to be even more successful. Besides, neither the research nor the program will cost much with the joint effort of the government, including the local police, and the university students, faculty, and administrators.

A decrease in campus violence will affect the campus population positively in numerous ways. There is considerable evidence that students’ exposure to violence is associated with both antisocial behavior and psychological trauma, such as depression, anxiety, anger, post-traumatic stress, and can lead to violent behavior.

Not only will a decrease in violence exposure lessen the amount of psychological stresses and traumas placed upon college students, it will also improve personal and social development, as well as increase the overall happiness of the students and allow them to enjoy the rest of their college experiences without much distresses and fears.

It will also allow students and faculty to focus more on academics and education. The decrease campus violence will likely result in a decrease of local crimes and the tendency to commit crimes and thus, improves the well-being of society as a whole.   

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