Survey: 52% of Parents with College Students ‘Very Concerned’ About Sexual Assault

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New research by Wearsafe also finds that 70% say campus safety is critical factor in school selection

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With back-to-school upon us, Wearsafe Labs, a leading developer of advanced wearable safety products, today announced the results of a commissioned study on back-to-college safety concerns among parents. For the study, 1,000 parents across the US, with children currently enrolled in college or entering into their first year, were polled the week of August 7.

Nearly 70% say campus safety is critical in picking schools

When asked how important campus safety was when making a final decision during the college selection process for their child, the overwhelming majority – 69% – said that it was “very important.” 27% said it was “somewhat important” or “important.” Only 5% said it was “slightly important” or “not important.”

Regardless of how safe college campuses might seem, when parents were asked how concerned they are about their child’s safety while away at college, most – 51% – said “very.” Thirty-seven percent said they were “somewhat concerned” or “concerned.” Finally, just 11% said that they were “slightly concerned” or “not concerned.”

Despite concerns, 46% of parents believe their children are “very prepared” to be away at college and know what to do in the event of an emergency. 49% say they are “somewhat prepared” or “prepared.” Only 5% admit that their child is “slightly prepared” or “not prepared” while handling college emergencies.

52% of parents are ‘very concerned’ about sexual assault

When asked to rank their campus safety concerns on a sliding scale of one to four, with one being the most concerning and four being the least concerning, “underage drinking and binge drinking” was ranked the most concerning (rating average of 2.39); followed by “illegal drug use” (2.43), and a tie between “on-campus shootings” (2.55) and, in general, “on-campus crimes” (2.55), such as robberies and assaults.

However, when asked how concerned they were about sexual assault, a specific type of on-campus crime, the majority (52%) of parents said they “very concerned.” Thirty-nine percent said they were “somewhat concerned” or “concerned.” Only 9% said that they were just “slightly concerned” or “not concerned.”

Among parents with “female” college goers, 55% said they were “very concerned” about sexual assault on campus. Alternatively, just 50% of respondents with “male” college students, said they were “very concerned.” Similarly, parents with female college goers also saw on-campus crimes (ranked 2.37) – including sexual assault – as their top safety concern. For parents with male college goers, underage and binge drinking (2.30) was the top concern, while on-campus crime – such as sexual assault – was the least (2.68).

“Our own parents probably worried about teens experimenting with sex and drugs, but today’s families have reports of sexual assault in mind as they send kids to college,” comments former Secret Service agent and security expert Rich Staropoli. “Parents of both genders need to take commonsense measures, beginning with conversation, to help prepare their kids for a safe college experience.”

Almost 20% don’t know how students are notified of threats

When asked how their child’s college notifies students about on-campus crimes or threats, 54% of parents said “alert text messages/phone calls.” Twenty-one percent said “community advisory emails” and 7% said “advisories posted in campus buildings/classrooms.” Alarmingly, though, nearly 20% of parents said that they did not know how on-campus crimes or threats were communicated and shared with their college goers.

Staropoli believes parents and kids need to know all options for staying safe at school, including learning about campus security measures such as the college “blue light systems” – a series of call boxes strategically located throughout college campuses, where students can call emergency dispatchers and someone will show up if they are in trouble.

Parents were asked whether or not the blue lights were the safest system for preventing on-campus crimes, 54% of parents polled said “yes,” they were, and just 19% said “no.” Nearly 30% were “not sure.”

“Actually, the blue lights have many disadvantages and are being largely phased out,” according to Staropoli, “Most ‘campus’ assaults do not take place on campus, and by many accounts, the call boxes are rarely used.”

78% of parents tell their students to walk with others

When asked what plan of action or advice they have shared with their student to keep them safe while away at college, the top-six responses were:

  •     78% - Always walk with others, especially at night
  •     65% - Stay in well-lit places on campus
  •     54% - If they feel unsafe somewhere, notify someone AND notify roommate/friend where they will be
  •     45% - Have campus security on speed dial on their phone
  •     38% - Constant contact with family via phone call, Skype, text

Only 6% of parents said they had not yet established a plan with their student. Among parents with male students, 7% said they had not established a plan. For those with female students, 4% said they have not.

“Parents and college students need to have an individualized plan that combines a mix of tech and intuition,” says Wearsafe co-founder Dave Benoit, “It pays to pack some ‘precaution’ for kids as we help them prepare for campus life.”


Security expert Staropoli has additional suggestions for parents to impart to their kids to ensure their own safety.

  •     Learn about the newest class of wearable device. The Wearsafe Tag, for example, connects the wearer with a trusted circle of family and friends with the press of one button. Contacts get an immediate, live audio stream from the tag’s location including a full minute of audio captured from before the alert button was pressed. They also receive the wearer’s exact GPS location and can make informed decisions about how to help at that point.
  •     Stay in the spotlight. Walking with a flashlight or the light from your phone is an excellent deterrent to a would-be assailant. Any additional light in your surroundings or on your person is helpful.
  •     Choose to rideshare. Rather than walk alone or even in a group (no match for an armed assailant), one can wait for a campus shuttle (sometimes for a while). The better option is to set aside part of your school budget for an Uber or Lyft account; cars come within minutes and no cash is required.
  •     Imbibe and indulge responsibly. It’s not just a commercial tagline. Drink from your own cup or bottle, avoid unknown beverages or sips from others’ cups, and keep your wits about you in a social situation.
  •     Learn self-defense. Not only can a lesson in self-defense teach you some moves that could make the difference when you need it, but knowing a little self-defense can boost confidence, make you more aware of your surroundings, and develop a fighter mentality. It’s also more reliable than a can of mace and safer than a can of pepper spray.


About Wearsafe
Wearsafe ( ) is a leading developer of advanced wearable safety products designed to revolutionize the way you live your life. Wearsafe’s products marry cutting edge technology with individual and institutional demand for personal safety. As pioneers in creating personal protection products and communication services that leverage mobile technology, Wearsafe’s vision is to change the perception of safety and security products, from solely protecting locations and property, to protecting individuals, wherever they may be.

PR Contact:
Marijane Funess
Crenshaw Communications, for Wearsafe

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Chris Harihar
Crenshaw Communications
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