MONTREAL, Sept. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - An investigation into institutions of higher learning reveals that campus safety is a bigger issue than we think. To students and parents, universities feel safe and secure, but Robert Goyette, Editor-in Chief of Reader's Digest, wanted to know more. "Oddly, campus safety still doesn't seem to be a major concern for Canadian parents in helping their children pick a school. The underlying assumption seems to be: It won't happen to my kids."
The October 2009 issue of Reader's Digest includes a special report on safety at Canadian universities. This article includes campus safety profiles for prominent post-secondary institutions across the country. With statistical highlights, safety programs, and room for improvement for several leading universities, this is a necessary tool for any parent or child researching higher learning locations.
The investigation revealed that, unlike in the United States, Canadian universities are not required to disclose crime statistics - and many are not willing to. Of the 52 public universities Reader's Digest asked for crime statistics and safety information, 19 schools (including some of Canada's most prominent ones) refused or didn't respond to repeated requests. The majority of those 19 responded only when freedom-of-information requests were sent.
Threats to student safety are many and varied. A staggering 82 percent of sexual assaults on campus involve people known to each other. Mental health is another major concern. According to Phil Wood, Dean of Students at McMaster University, there are three clear trends - a higher incidence of significant mental-health issues (such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia); students who are a threat to themselves or others; and a general decline in student mental health. At the University of British Columbia, 13 percent of male undergraduate students and 11 percent of female undergrads seriously considered suicide at least once in 2008.
These and other challenges to student health and safety led some universities to provide limited responses to our questions. In some cases, universities avoided answering altogether. Reader's Digest hopes that this article will help pave the way towards publicly available safety information at all universities. Perhaps with these efforts, student safety and campus crime statistics will no longer be hidden or in the background. It should not take another headline pronouncing a deadly shooting or stabbing to goad us into caring about campus safety.
To read the full article, the October 2009 issue of Reader's Digest
is on newsstands now, or you can read it online at
Robert Goyette, Editor-in Chief of Reader's Digest is available
for comment and interview.
SOURCE The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) ULC
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