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Advice for first time students

Over the next few weeks students across the country will be moving away from home for the first time to attend colleges and universities in new cities and towns, writes Steve Drake, security training manager at Magpie Security in Nottingham.

For most students, college is the first time they will be living without supervision, making their own decisions, experimenting with different social scenes and staying out late – all while being surrounded by new and unfamiliar faces. While the college experience is always exciting and life changing, often these new living arrangements can present students with circumstances in which they are unsure how to navigate the social scene while protecting and defending themselves.

Stephen Drake, lifelong martial artist, security training and development manager and author of many published articles on both personal protection and self-defence, says: “Most university campuses are incredibly safe and crime is relatively rare. We all know, however, that because of the college lifestyle of late nights and beverage consumption, students can be easy targets for petty crime and personal attacks.”

He suggests the following simple self-defence strategies for students;

Always trust your instinct. If your gut is telling you something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t (your more perceptive than you think). Go back to where you came from, contact campus security or find people as quickly as you can.

Always travel in groups. Never walk alone at night. Avoid “short cuts”. Criminals, like predators, try to isolate their prey from the herd. Groups are less likely to be confronted, so “buddy up” for the walk home.

Never trust your assailant. Criminals are cunning and can be extremely persuasive. Most likely they will approach you in a friendly manner and appeal to your common senses. No matter what they say or how convincing they are, never believe them. Campus security is the best team for the job.

Never leave the area. Your attacker needs to isolate you. In order to do that, they will use force or any persuasive manoeuvre to convince you that going with them is in your best interest. Don’t go, even when faced with an armed assailant. Put as much space between you and them as fast as possible.

An ounce of prevention …

Plan ahead to ensure you never have to find yourself in a desperate situation.

Always take advantage of campus safety services. Become familiar with your university campus security department. Most offer escorts and shuttle services to and from campus dorms after hours.

Study the campus and neighbourhood. Become familiar with respect to routes between your residence and class/activities schedule. Make note where emergency phones are located.

Share your class and activities schedule. Let parents and a network of close friends know your schedule. This creates a type of “buddy” system. Give network telephone numbers to your parents, advisors, and friends.

The Magpie Security Training Academy provides quality personal protection and self-defence instruction training programs that provide a maximum effect with a minimum of time invested. The purpose of such training is it is better to have something and not use it rather than need something and you don’t have it. Self Defence is a life skill just like learning first aid or learning to swim. Visit


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