Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Tips for Your College Student to be Aware of Their Surroundings Parents, your college or high school student is probably looking down at her smartphone most of the time (if not all of the time). Which is fine, except she needs to look up, look around, and be aware of her surroundings - especially away at school. Before she goes away to school, whether it’s for the first time or returning, please share these tips with your student to keep her safe. Look behind you. Look to the side, both ways. Look in front of you. Are there people around you? Did it suddenly go quiet? And if so, why? If you get a funny feeling in your gut, get up and move away from where you are. Trust your gut. Trust your intuition. If you are walking, put your phone down and look where you are going. Nothing is that important. If a reply is something that must happen immediately, then stop walking and reply, or better yet, call the person old school, like we used to do. WALKING AROUND… 1. Get in the habit of noticing your surroundings. When you walk into a new environment, look around. Notice where the other exits are. Wake up. Look. Put your phone down, by your side and look around. 2. Walk with purpose. If you are lost, walk with purpose to find someone who can help you. Make it a habit to look up from your phone, tablet or computer often. This takes practice, but it’s important. Your safety is more important than any social media happening, text message, or...
Talking About the Tough Stuff

Talking About the Tough Stuff

Continuing the Conversations Going away to college is a huge transition. It’s a huge stressor. No matter how much freedom you’ve given your teen, there’s a huge leap between living at home and moving away and living on your own. The sudden freedom, access to alcohol and drugs, pressure of social media and stress— it’s a lot to deal with. So I help families learn how to talk to their teens about the tough stuff and get their kids to start listening, using laughter, and knowledge gained through personal experience, to provide conversation starting points. We need to wake up and make sure our teens know that they need to be aware of their surroundings. Hopefully, you laid the groundwork for this talk when your teen was younger, and began stressing the importance of personal boundaries. For example; no one else should ever touch your private parts. Hopefully, there were also conversations about stranger-danger, and about what kinds of physical touching were okay and what types were inappropriate – and about what to do if someone ever did touch them inappropriately. These are not always the most fun conversations, but they are necessary. Even if you feel like you haven’t had enough talks of this kind, it’s not too late to coach your teen to have stronger, or better, personal boundaries. This is a conversation that needs to start BEFORE your college freshman leaves for orientation. The talk about sexual assault on college campuses is just like the drug and alcohol talks that hopefully began a while ago and that you continue to have. These are serious topics with...
Into the Red Zone

Into the Red Zone

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Red Zone I’ve heard the phrase “The Red Zone” used to refer to the period of time between the beginning of the fall semester and Thanksgiving since I first began speaking on campuses and at conferences—but why is it called the Red Zone? Because there are more sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses during this time than at any other time during the school year. The 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study discovered that more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November. As school starts students are meeting new people, trying to fit in, and exploring new boundaries. Students may be new to the city, adjusting to a new environment and getting acclimated… with less parental supervision and increased independence, students may begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I’ve been speaking on college campuses and at National College Conferences since 2008. Every person I’ve met and worked with loves college students. Many of them start their days at 9 in the morning and stay on campus for activities until 9 or 10 at night, simply because it’s really rewarding work to help make a difference with young people. Of course people working at colleges care about students’ safety. I believe that 100%. But the majority of staff who work on college campuses did NOT go into criminal justice, which makes the issue of sexual assault on campuses incredibly challenging. It’s not their area of expertise. I firmly believe in the power of prevention and awareness. That’s why I am pulling back the curtain on “The Red Zone”....
To The Parents of College-Bound Kids

To The Parents of College-Bound Kids

What I Wish I Knew Before I Left For College Going away to college is HUGE. It’s rated one of the top life-changing challenges that we go through, right up there with divorce, and the death of a spouse. It is THE most challenging transition for college-bound kids, since they usually have not married or divorced yet. And what do we focus on when preparing them? Academics. That seems obvious, right? It’s a competitive world and they need to learn how to study, and write papers on a whole new level. And yet, there are some things even MORE important than grades, tests, and study habits. Like safety. And responsibility. And accountability. I don’t remember knowing what those words really meant before I went off to my freshman year. Your 17- or 18-year-old is dying to get away from you and have “freedom”. They may not listen to you anymore. You may have turned into the Charlie Brown teacher to them years ago: blah blah…blah blah blah blah blah… So how the heck are you going to get them to listen to YOU when you try to talk to them about the tough topics like sex in “college,” drinking responsibly, the dangers of legal and illegal drugs, and sexual predators? How will you know you are getting through to them? You don’t know and you can’t. They do not want to talk to you about this stuff and deep down, you don’t really want to talk to them about this stuff, either. Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby Let’s face it—with all due respect, most of us are uncomfortable talking...
Spring Break, Shame and Recovery

Spring Break, Shame and Recovery

Spring is coming! I’ve always loved spring. My birthday is in March. So is my sister’s and her daughter’s, so it’s always been a fun thing to look forward to. And for some reason, spring was usually a harder semester for me than the fall. Like most students, I couldn’t wait to have Spring Break. I remember feeling pressure from other students and myself about making sure I had a super fun Spring Break—one that was worthy of bragging about. I had talked my best friend, Anna, to drive us down to Padre Island, in south Texas. My parents had forbidden me to go, but I just lied to them. Anna had not wanted to go because she was self conscious about her body in a bikini. But I begged and pleaded and so we drove the 8 hours it took to get there. Blackouts and Closets The first night we were there, out with friends, Anna had gotten into a fight with a guy at a club, and then later she and I got into a fist fight. Of course there was alcohol involved and somehow we managed to stumble our way home to sleep on the floor of a friend’s condo. The next day we were both filled with remorse and shame, so in order to escape dealing with those feelings, we went to Mexico to “shop”. After a day of margaritas and Coronas, somehow we managed to get ourselves back over the border into the US. This is where it gets a bit blurry for me. Suddenly I found myself at a party in a condo...

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