Have a student going to college? What to know.

College can be a new chapter of freedom and excitement for your child. It is the next step on their journey to adulthood.

However, college campuses are full of many young students who are on their own, without parental guidance or supervision, for the first time in their lives. This understandably can result in some misguided decisions and scrapes with trouble – and in some cases, with the law.

What is the crime rate on college campuses?

As of 2019, the average rate of crimes reported on college campuses was 18.7 crimes per 10,000 full-time students. This may not seem like a significant number, since the average enrollment of students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is roughly 10,000. This low number may seem like there is a low risk of students facing charges.

However, it is important to remember that statistics can be misleading. There are a few things to remember:

  • Many on-campus crimes, particularly sexual assault, are underreported
  • This rate does not include off-campus crimes

Off-campus crimes could include a wide array of offenses, including underage drinking, DUI, hazing incidents in fraternity housing, assault and more. Incidents around and off campus could still result in students facing serious charges or students being victims of crimes.

Student codes + Criminal codes = Increased consequences

Alcohol use is rampant on college campuses – and even considered part of the culture of college life. In turn, DUI charges are a common concern. Students could face compounded consequences in these cases, or any criminal case, because:

  • Students could face criminal penalties for violating Tennessee law
  • They could face administrative penalties for violating the university code

For example, UTC and other universities have codes of conduct students must follow. Most of these codes include specific policies relating to alcohol use, and other criminal behaviors. In addition to criminal charges, students could also face disciplinary actions at school for violating the code of conduct.

Talk to your student

It is natural to worry about your child as they go off to college. Reading about the risks of being a victim of college crimes and the risks of criminal charges that students could face may not lessen that worry, but you can still take steps to protect your child as they start this new journey in their education. Having a conversation and ensuring that students understand the risks can be critical.

If  your student does get in to trouble and ends up facing criminal charges on or off campus, it is important that you know the options your student has to try to defend against those charges and lessen the impact that charges could have on your student’s future.

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