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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
to the federally mandated campus safety reports, despite the passing of the
Clery Act. By not including all students living off-campus in their
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
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
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
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
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.