How to Talk to Your Family About Safety

As your children grow up, safety never stops being your top priority. This focus can become more important than ever during your child’s college years. 

Many families are unsure of how to start tough conversations about safety .

Family Talk About Safety

Follow these tips to have open, honest discussions with your college student about staying cautious and alert. 

mom and teenage daughter hugging

Encourage Your Child to “Go with Your Gut”

Peer pressure is an influential factor in college students’ lives. However, in certain situations, this can have devastating consequences. 

When you sit down and talk about safety, encourage your child to listen to their intuition. Humans are very aware of dangerous situations before we even consciously know what is wrong. 

If your child feels “off” about a person, place, or activity, make sure they know that it’s okay to trust their gut. 

Talk About the Tough Stuff

As parents, you want to protect your child from the harsh realities of the world. Unfortunately, this instinct must go out the window as you have some tough conversations about safety with your college student. 

Don’t avoid certain topics related to health and safety just because they are shocking or embarrassing.

Your college student needs to know about these situations so they can take proper action if they come up. 

Some topics to cover include:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Sexual assault
  • Violent crime
  • Coercion
  • Social justice issues
  • Discrimination 
  • Personal beliefs and core values

These topics can be hard to talk about with your child, but it is essential to start the conversation before they find themselves in a compromised spot. 

Come Up with a Code Phrase for Dangerous Situations

You know your child best, so you will likely be the first they call for help if they need it.

Come up with a family word or phrase that your child can send you if they are in a dangerous situation. The code phrase should be something that seems innocent to outsiders.

In cases of kidnapping, assault, and other violent crimes, the perpetrator won’t catch on. This could save your child’s life. 

Make a plan of action for when you do receive the code phrase. Let your child know that you will take any necessary safety measures. 

Create a Family Culture of Honesty and Acceptance

Your child needs to know that they can rely on you to help them in awkward, dangerous, and compromising situations. This cannot happen if they feel they will face legal or verbal consequences. 

Let your child know that they can ask for your help, no matter what has happened. This can include underage drinking situations and sexual problems. If your college student feels safe confiding in you, they are more likely to stay out of serious danger. 

Besides safety issues, honesty and acceptance can go a long way in building strong family bonds. These are essential for the mental health and well-being of your child, even as they grow into a young adult. 

Set Boundaries Around Online Sharing

In the age of social media, everyone is connected all the time. Many users share their location in real time with their followers and friends. 

While this sharing can be fun in the moment, it puts your college kid at risk of strangers finding out where they are. No social connectivity is more important than your child’s safety. 

Set some clear, firm boundaries around your child’s online sharing habits. This will work best if they feel involved in the process. Allow them to come up with fair but safe rules for social networking and stick to them. 

For example, you might encourage them to limit location sharing to just family members or to wait a day before posting their activities publicly. These limits can protect your child while still allowing them to be a socially active young adult. 

Plan Regular Check-Ins with Close Family and Friends

Someone should know the whereabouts of your child at all times. It doesn’t have to be you, but they should always check in with family members or friends. Their location information will be extremely helpful if your child goes missing.

Encourage them to share their real-time location with trusted family and friends on their cell phone. 

Help Your Student Stay Safe In College

Honesty and trust are the two most important factors in your student’s safety. If they feel safe coming to you with sensitive information, they are at a much lower risk of being harmed. 

Use this guide to start an honest, open conversation about safety with your family.