Who is liable if a student is attacked on campus?
As universities and colleges around the country gear up for the fall semester, students are gearing up as well. Many anxious parents worry about sending their children off to campus around so many strangers, where virtually anything could happen.
Is there really any reason to worry? Unfortunately, yes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), on-campus crimes have been steadily rising over the last 15 years. Criminal reports involving campus victims show a marked increase in numerous types of violent crimes, in particular, from 2001 to 2015.
For example, campus-based sexual crimes increased 262 percent in that period of time. Students were also increasingly victimized by hate crimes, including intimidation, assault and aggravated assault over those years. All of that was in addition to the numerous burglaries, thefts and vandalism that students had to endure.
Universities and colleges have a responsibility to anticipate certain problem behaviors on their campuses. Administrators can -- and should -- take steps to make their institutions safer for students. Some of the measures that can be taken include:
- Secured buildings, accessible only by keycards
- Security guards who patrol parking lots and residential areas, particularly in the evening hours
- Security guards who patrol heavily-used areas at night, like student centers and libraries
- Lighting along areas traversed by students at night (such as the route commonly used between the dorm rooms and the school's library)
- Well-lit parking garages and parking lots
- Emergency call stations strategically located around campus
- Security cameras around entrances and lobbies
When schools don't take these kinds of precautions, it may be an open invitation for trouble. There's also a possibility that the school can be held liable for any injuries that a student suffers from an attack -- particularly if the school was already aware that there were problems, previous attacks or threats of an attack.
Negligent security is a real concern at universities and colleges throughout the nation. Make sure that your son or daughter is properly prepared and knows what to do in the event of a problem.