Predicting Women's Perceptions of Safety on a College Campus

Wendy Walsh, University of New Hampshire
Ellen S. Cohn, University of New Hampshire
Vicki L. Banyard, University of New Hampshire
Elizabeth Plante, University of New Hampshire
Sally K. Ward, University of New Hampshire
Cari A. Moorhead, University of New Hampshire

Women report feeling unsafe on college campuses, particularly in certain locations. The first purpose of the study is to determine whether college students' perceptions of safety vary depending on the campus location or are they more global. The second purpose is to determine the factors that predict perceptions of safety. 417 college women completed a questionnaire in which they answered demographic questions and questions about perceptions of safety in different locations both on and off campus, unwanted sexual experiences in the last seven months, and alcohol consumption. Three factors emerged from participants' perceptions of safety: safety where students live (e.g. dorm, apartment), safety off campus (e.g. car, date), and safety in social situations (e.g., party, sorority, fraternity). Different variables predicted the safety factors. Perceptions of safety where students live is predicted by membership in intramural teams and belief that unwanted sexual experiences are a problem on campus. Perceptions of safety in social situations is predicted by membership in intramural teams, frequency of drinking and belief that unwanted sexual experiences are a problem on campus. The implications for making women on college campus feel safe is discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006