A Message to Incoming College Students
Many students in America are finishing their high school experience online during the coronavirus pandemic. As this chapter closes, another one opens. Students are preparing to move into their college dorms, and begin this new part of their lives. But while dorm decorating and roommate matching seems important, most new college students aren’t preparing or learning about the risks of this new chapter.
Photo by Tim Gouw
When it comes to human trafficking, many people think “oh, that could never happen to me.” But I wish there had been a blog post for me to read when I was going into college that warned me about how wrong that really is. College is a traffickers paradise, and the minute college students realize that, the safer they become.
Traffickers can sense human weakness, they prey on it. Human traffickers often prey on those weaknesses, offering easy and hard to deny solutions. These weaknesses can be things like lack of financial freedom, stress & anxiety, lack of sleep, and intoxication. Those factors describe what sounds like a pretty average and normal freshman year at college, and that's the problem.
These incoming students can come from backgrounds that would generally make them very low risk for human trafficking. This was the case for me. Growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and no one got away with anything, there was little opportunity for the danger, and subsequently little education on the risk of it. But moving into the dorms and living with strangers can turn low risk people into easily found high risk targets.
But these risks can’t take the fun out of this new chapter. Below are three ways incoming college students can stay safe in this new chapter, while not missing out on these college experiences. I encourage all my readers to share these with anyone they may know moving into college in the fall.
Make it your first goal to find someone you trust. This can be your roommate, your RA, counselor, or just a friend that can be your support system. Checking in with them systematically and even sharing your location can help insure your safety. Some campuses even have groups that offer this type of support.
When at events such as concerts, festivals, sporting events or parties, make sure to implement the buddy system. That means never going to the bathroom alone, and never walking home alone.
Be smart when it comes to partying. I know that no one can tell freshman in college not to party (although I am not condoning it), be aware of who is supplying the drinks, and make sure you are never in a vulnerable situation without more than one person you trust.
While these things cannot always insure safety, these are important things for incoming college students to be thinking about. If you or anyone you know is an incoming college student, or a returning college student, I encourage you to use this time in quarantine to research your college area and campus. Research if any trafficking has been reported, and educate yourself on human trafficking in general.
Read this post as well to see some tips on staying safe.
Tweet me! @Brooke_Ruhl and use the hashtag #BRuhly_Trafficked