Category Archives: Campus Safety

10 Tips for Nighttime Walking

Whether you’re walking out to your car through the Parkland parking lots or enjoying an evening out in downtown Champaign, Urbana, or Campustown, foot travel at night carries more risks than the daytime. As starts to get nicer outside, we’ve compiled the following list of tips to help you safely reach your destination:

  1. Stay away from poorly lit areas and avoid taking shortcuts down dark alleyways or paths. Choose well-lit, heavily traveled sidewalks.
  2. If you are in an emergency situation, call 911.
  3. Whenever possible, do not walk alone at night.
  4. Be aware of places along your path that could conceal a criminal (shrubbery, buildings, recesses, etc.). Avoid these areas.
  5. Do not use headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking alone at night as this reduces your awareness of your surroundings.
  6. If you think someone is following you, make your way to a populated area and consider calling the police.
  7. Carry yourself with confidence. If confronted, shout or use a whistle to attract attention.
  8. It is risky to travel under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. Drugs and alcohol can greatly alter your perceptions, reaction time, and judgments.
  9. Make sure to tell someone your plans and travel routes and when to expect your arrival.
  10. Wear clothing that will allow you to run if necessary. If you need to run, drop any heavy cargo you’re carrying (heavy books, packages, etc.) since these slow you down.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month and throughout the year, Parkland College is dedicated to supporting families and reducing the risk of child abuse and neglect.

Even if you’re not a parent, almost everyone knows or is somehow connected to children through family or friends. You don’t have to be a professional to spend time and offer appropriate affection and support to the kids in your life.

Being the best parent you can be involves taking steps to strengthen your family and finding support when you need it. Parenting is part natural and part learned; you can supplement your natural skills with questions for your family doctor, your child’s teacher, family or friends. Books, websites, and parenting classes can also be helpful for ideas on how to deal with new challenges as your child grows up. Parenting isn’t something you have to do alone. When you have the knowledge, skills, and resources you need, you can raise a happy, healthy child.

Find out more about activities and programs in your community that support parents and promote healthy families. Dial 2-1-1 from any telephone in Champaign County and you’ll be connected with trained specialists who can help refer you to the variety of assistance programs available in the area.

A comprehensive tipsheet for parents and caregivers can also be found at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/tipsheets_2017_en.pdf

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Cyber Safety, Part 2: Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying isn’t just a problem for adolescents; it often impacts those who have long since left high school behind. If you find yourself being bullied or harassed online, there are a few steps you can take to remedy the situation.

  1. Document all evidence of the bullying, taking screenshots or pictures of any messages, posts, or comments that are made. You should also block the person who is cyberbullying.
  2. Next, report that evidence to the online service providers. Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and Internet service providers, and they can take action against the users who are abusing their sites. This not only protects you but stops others from being bullied as well.
  3. Finally, depending on the severity of the bullying, bring the evidence you have to law enforcement as well. This should definitely be done when the bullying involves threats of violence, sexually explicit messages or posts, stalking and hate crimes, or taking photos or videos of someone where they would reasonably expect privacy.

The Pew Research Center estimates that 40% of adult Internet users have personally experienced some form of online harassment. If you or someone you know is the victim of online bullying, please reach out and start the process to freedom from cyberbullying.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

 

Cyber Safety, Part 1

For the next two weeks, we’ll be talking about cyber safety. Today’s post discusses three of the most common forms of theft and fraud that you’ll find online, and next week will be all about cyber bullying.

Phishing

Phishing is a common trick used by identity thieves to gain your personal information. This crime involves sending email or creating sites that appear to be from a legitimate company and asking you to confirm personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, birth dates, or addresses. PayPal and eBay are two of the most common targets for phishing scams. Before adding any personal information, contact the supposed site directly to see if they have been trying to contact you. Most reputable sites will not contact you in this way.

Identity Theft

When they think of Internet safety, adults most often consider identity theft a top priority. Identity thieves can use the information they find online to drain your bank account and ruin your credit rating. In some cases, the damage caused by identity theft may even harm your future employment prospects, especially if you work in an industry that regularly does credit checks for all job applicants. Should you find yourself to be a victim of Identity theft, visit https://identitytheft.gov/ for easy instructions on how to report the crime and form a recovery plan.

Watch for Fraud

The global nature of the Internet has brought new life to scams. Some of the most common forms of Internet fraud include the following:

  • Online auctions site postings that feature nonexistent or falsely represented merchandise
  • Nigerian money offers promising large sums of cash in exchange for assistance with bank account transfers
  • Financial scams targeting consumers with poor credit who are tricked into paying upfront fees in hopes of receiving credit cards or personal loans
  • Phony sweepstakes offers asking for payment to claim a prize that doesn’t really exist

Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of on the Internet! Think critically about anything that sounds too good to be true.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

 

Five Tips for Enjoying Spring Break…Safely

Parkland College’s spring break is just around the corner, so here are five tips for staying safe during the break:

Stick together
If you’re going on a trip with a group of friends, you’ll all be safest if you stick together. Should one of you decide to leave a party early or go on a solo shopping trip, make sure others in your group know where you’re going and how long you’ll be.

Keep an eye on your money
You don’t want to get stranded in a new and unfamiliar place without any money, so be sure to bring enough to last you the whole trip. If you carry cash, try to keep the amount you take with you on routine excursions to a minimum. Try distributing your money in various places among your belongings and accommodations so that if by chance you lose some or it’s stolen, you’ll still have more elsewhere.

Alcohol and you
Most spring break trips involve some level of alcohol-related activities, and while you may be safest if you don’t partake, the reality is, that will probably not be the case. Being smart about the way you drink is the next best thing, and that involves being cognizant of the risks of alcohol poisoning, selecting a designated driver if you’ve got to travel, and being wary of accepting drinks from strangers.

Safe sex
Should you decide to have sex during spring break, take the necessary precautions to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STDs/STIs. Make sure that consent has been explicitly and freely established between all parties before engaging in sexual activities.

Use proper activity gear
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that accidental injuries kill more Americans age 30 and under than any other cause of death. With this in mind, be sure to wear those seat belts and use life vests, knee pads, and other appropriate gear, especially before venturing out to some high-risk activity.

Have a fun—and safe—spring break!

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]