Encouraging Positive Choices
Newfound student freedoms ranging from autonomy in eating habits to sex, drug and alcohol choices can cause parental worry. During this time of transition, it can be challenging for parents and students to balance their roles in the relationship.
An encouraging study from Brigham Young University recently found that parents still influence their young adult's likelihood of involvement with drugs, alcohol and risky sexual activity even after the student leaves for college.
Of major importance in this dynamic is the way parents interact with their students. Being open to discussion and sharing opinions in a mutually respectful way is important to achieving success.
Exploration and Experimentation
For many students, college is a time of transformation that includes exploring values, opinions and presuppositions. Through this process, students develop a sense of identity that will benefit them in defining their personal, professional and career goals.
Along the way, students may engage in behaviors that are risk-oriented. Whether the behaviors include drugs, alcohol, sex and/or other activities, it is important that students are aware of the risks they face as well as precautions they should take.
Misconceptions and Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is often a major force in influencing student attitudes and behaviors. Research has found that college students tend to overestimate peer involvement with alcohol, drugs and sex. These misconceptions can result in students:
- Engaging in more high-risk behaviors because they want to be part of the crowd.
- Assuming they are invulnerable to harm because they believe others are not being adversely affected by risky actions.
Need for Ongoing Education
At BW, students receive information about the dangers of risky behavior through Orientation and Weekend of Welcome sessions, residence hall programming, special event speakers and other initiatives. BW's Health and Counseling Services offer opportunities for students to address physical, mental and emotional health issues, including gynecological and contraceptive services and more.
It is important for students to stay informed of the many issues relating to socializing and dating in order to avoid misconstrued sexual advances, assault/rape, unplanned pregnancies and/or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
Likewise, students are encouraged to avoid alcohol and drug use, which has been intrinsically linked to higher instances of sexual assaults and rape on campuses, unsafe sex, vandalism, injury, reckless driving, as well as other dangers.
BW has policies that prohibit irresponsible and illegal alcohol and drug use. Students who violate the policies can be subjected to legal as well as BW-instituted consequences. In order to encourage student fun and recreation in a positive manner, BW campus groups sponsor a variety of social events and entertainment throughout the school year.
While parents cannot know for sure if their students are making positive choices, the following guidelines can be topics for discussion. When talking with students, parents are encouraged to foster open communication that is focused on building respect and trust.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Students should not accept beverages they didn't see poured and/or ones they are suspicious of in terms of contents or source. Illegal drug use, underage alcohol consumption and driving after drinking are prohibited by BW policies and are against the law.
Avoiding Sexual Assault
Never walk alone at night and in remote and/or unlit areas. BW offers a free escort service. When it comes to safety, individuals should trust their instincts if they feel uncomfortable with persons, places and/or situations.
Students need to be assertive in communicating sexual limits and in stating when they feel violated by other persons. They should make arrangements to attend and leave social gatherings with friends rather than risk being left behind in unfamiliar places or with unknown persons.
A cell phone should be on at all times in case of emergencies. Students also should inform friends if they will be attending or leaving a particular social gathering.
Finally, students should stay away from individuals who seem manipulative, aggressive and/or possessive.
Once depicted as promoting unruly behavior, fraternities and sororities are respected today. BW Greek life is an active part of campus. The core values of the program are leadership, scholarship, service, philanthropy and social.