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Key Issues:

Riots and Campus Disturbances

Many people believe violence on college and university campuses is rare and view campus as a “safe haven.” However, a significant minority of students reports experiencing some form of violence, including interpersonal and sexual violence, while in college. For instance, research shows that 17 percent of college students report experiencing some form of violence or harassment during the previous year.

Violence affects the safety of everyone at the college and in the surrounding community. Violence is a complex behavior with determinants rooted in biology, childhood experience, community norms, and social and economic conditions. Violence on campus takes many forms, including hate and bias crimes, hazing, rape and other sexual assault, stalking, suicide, and vandalism. Survivors of violence may experience long-term physical and emotional consequences as a result of violence, which may lead to social or academic problems.

An effective violence prevention approach is grounded in strategic planning conducted by campus and community representatives working in collaboration. The process starts with a problem analysis designed to identify particular areas of concern in each campus community and to set priorities for prevention. These priorities, considered with research and best practices from the field, are used to create a strategic plan with clearly articulated goals and objectives and a plan for evaluation.

Campus administrators are in an excellent position to foster a safe, healthy, and civil campus environment in which everyone can grow, live, and learn. A comprehensive approach to violence prevention can minimize the individual, interpersonal, institutional, community, and policy factors that contribute to violence on campus, and may include:

  • Addressing attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and skills that contribute to violence through education, skill building, curriculum infusion, and other efforts.
  • Supporting healthy group norms and promoting bystander intervention.
  • Conveying clear expectations for conduct among students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
  • Creating and disseminating comprehensive policies and procedures addressing each type of violent behavior, and instituting training programs to ensure that policies are followed and enforced.
  • Providing a range of support services for students, including mental health services, crisis management, and comprehensive and compassionate services for victims.
  • Helping students to avoid harm through such measures as escort services and self-defense classes.
  • Establishing comprehensive alcohol and other drug prevention programs.

The following links include information, research, resources, and Web sites related to specific forms of violence:

Hate and Bias Crimes

Hate and bias crimes can occur at all types of colleges and universities, as well as in every part of the nation.


There are many types of hazing that take place in the context of initiation rites into athletics, fraternities and sororities, high schools, and the military.

Rape and Sexual Assault

Sexual victimization occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity.


Recent interest in stalking has created media attention and contributed to the formation of anti-stalking legislation.


Many colleges and universities view vandalism as a problem, and some have made progress in instituting strategies targeted to specifically address this type of violence.

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