Students can protect their belongings in a few simple ways. With pricey laptops, fancy tablets and high-tech phones found in every lecture hall and dorm room, it's no surprise that theft is the most common form of property crime on college campuses. Your teen should always lock her dorm room, even if just to go down the hall, says Tom Ellett, Ph.D., senior associate vice president for student affairs at New York University, adding that tracking software can help campus police locate lost or stolen items. A student should also consider buying a personal safe. "It's not that people don't trust their roommates," says Ellett. "It's that they don't know who their roommates are inviting over."
Smart, sensible behavior can help keep your student safe. Less common than theft but still problematic are violent crimes like assault, robbery and rape. "College freedom can be dangerous," says Dan L. Jones, Ph.D., director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. "Freshmen are excited by their new independence, but it's often accompanied by naivete." Students may not know their limits regarding alcohol consumption or peer pressure, he adds. In fact, female college freshmen are at the highest risk for sexual assault between the first day of school and Thanksgiving break. Jones advises students to attend parties in pairs or groups, and to leave with friends. And female students shouldn't assume the guys at college are like the ones back home. "Someone may seem trustworthy, but you never know," Jones cautions. "Spend quality time getting acquainted before going off alone."