Casper public school classes started earlier this month, and Casper College and the University of Wyoming began the fall semester in August. Every autumn, there’s often an uptick in bullying, domestic and other types of violence, and sexual assault cases on campuses across the nation.
September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, a time to remind everyone to be careful going to and from classes, while socializing, during special activities like athletics, and when dating. From bullying and robbery to sexual assault and murder, public schools and college campuses can be scenes of violence. We’ve all observed news reports of school shootings, and maybe some of us have experienced stalking and/or bullying. Walking to class, attending a party, browsing SnapChat and Facebook – each activity exposes a student to potential violence.
The Clery Center, named after a 19-year-old student who, in 1986, was raped and murdered in her college dorm, focuses on campus security and violence awareness. A safe campus is critical to a college’s success and to the success of its students. Find resources here: https://clerycenter.org/about-page/resources-for-students-families/.
Learn more about campus safety by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3fjeS4yC20
A recently-released report from National Crime Victims’ Rights Week indicates violent victimization on public school grounds around the country has decreased significantly during the past 20+ years. However, the violence rate away from school was nearly 30% higher than at school. Bullying, including online, is a primary concern for students, especially for girls. About 15% of students have been bullied electronically, and 1 in 4 girls (compared to 1 in 5 boys) have been bullied at school. Girls were more likely than boys to not attend school due to safety concerns. Additional statistics from the report showed that 22% of students had been offered, given, or sold illegal drugs on school grounds, and 8% of students had been in physical fights on or off school grounds.
Overall, on-campus crime reported to authorities has decreased nearly 35% since 2005, the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week organization reported. However, sexual assault reports rose; it is believed a greater percentage of rape and forcible sexual assault cases are being reported to authorities compared to past years.
Statistics for Casper College indicate our community’s well-known institution is, overall, a safe campus. Less than five burglaries were reported each year from 2014 – 2016; five reported sexual assaults/rapes occurred during that same time period, and one vehicle theft noted. No homicide, arson, or manslaughter cases were reported during those three years.
How about the University of Wyoming? Although no cases of murder, manslaughter, arson, robbery or aggravated assault were reported on campus 2014 – 2016, burglaries were high, especially in 2014 (19 cases). Sadly, reports of sexual assaults and rapes were significant on the campus: 9 reported in 2014, 15 reported in 2015, and 19 reported in 2016.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), college-aged students 18 to 24 are the most likely to become victims of sexual assault. Additionally, the organization reports, the highest number of sexual assaults occur on campus between August and November.
It’s also reported that 96% of campus hate crimes are committed against people due to their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, and about 1 in 3 students are victims of dating or domestic violence.
What to Do?
Many types of violence are unpredictable. However, determining if a person is involved in a healthy or toxic relationship is possible, and therefore, steps can be taken to ensure one’s safety. Signs of an unhealthy relationship include jealousy, manipulation, isolation, belittling, and volatility. If these words describe the person with whom you’re involved, make a safety plan and get out! Seek help, protection, and safety as soon as possible.
Take care and be aware while on- and off-campus, and seek help as needed. Find a confident, caring friend or family member, get counseling if needed, and report to the proper authorities. Safe houses are available throughout Wyoming and confidential assistance through places such as Casper’s Self Help Center are available. Your safety matters!
If you think you might have become pregnant from a sexual assault, contact True Care for your free pregnancy and STD test appointment. You can call or text our Scheduling Line at 307-215-9684.