Assessing online strategies aimed at enhancing campus safety

Published date09 April 2018
Date09 April 2018
AuthorBrittany E. Hayes,Eryn Nicole O’Neal,Katherine A. Meeker,Sarah A. Steele,Patrick Q. Brady,Matthew A. Bills
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Assessing online strategies aimed at
enhancing campus safety
Brittany E. Hayes, Eryn Nicole ONeal, Katherine A. Meeker, Sarah A. Steele, Patrick Q. Brady
and Matthew A. Bills
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate technological strategies (i.e. online training and university
safety system) used at one southeastern four-year university to enhance campus safety. This paper
investigates if an online training influenced rape myth acceptance (RMA) and if participation in the university
safety system was associated with perceptions of campus safety.
Design/methodology/approach Data from college students were collected via a survey that was
distributed through the schools e-mail system. The survey asked respondents about their perceptions of
safety, experiences on campus, attitudes, and utilization of campus resources. In total, 1,583 students
participated in the survey. Analyses were limited to 889 respondents not missing data.
Findings RMA did not differ between those who completed the online training and those who did not
complete the training. Regarding perceptions of campus safety, respondents who opted to receive
emergency notifications were not significantly different from those who did not receive the notifications.
Respondents who had the safety application felt safer on campus compared to those who did not have the
application. Respondents who participated in the training, received notifications, and had the application felt
safer on campus.
Originality/value This study highlights the potential utility of the safety application as well as the limited
effect of the online education program on RMA.
Keywords Campus climate, Campus safety, Online education programmes, Perceptions of safety,
Rape myth acceptance, Safety application
Paper type Research paper
Federal legislation, student activists, and advocacy groups have influenced how universities
addresscampus crime and security. Inthe aftermath of the mass shootingat Virginia Tech in 2007,
the federal government mandated college campuses implement emergency systems that alert
students and faculty across a wide variety of digital mediums of ongoing threats, including active
shooters (Fox and Savage, 2009). Around that time, the American College Health Association
(2008, p. 5) acknowledged that sexual violence was a serious campus and public health issue,
and three years later, the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights released a
Dear Colleagueletter aimed at guiding institutions of higher learning in effective steps to end
sexual violence(Office of the Assistant Secretary,2011). In 2013, the Violence Against Women Act
was reauthorizedand the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE)Act was enacted.
The Campus SaVE Act (2013) is considered the most recent and far-reaching legal effort to
protect students from sexual victimization. Finally, in 2014, the White House Task Force to
Protect Students from Sexual Assault was formed, cementing the importance of addressing
campus climate.
In response to federal efforts, universities have implemented a wide array of strategies to address
campus safety generally and sexual assault specifically. Strategies include mandating bystander
intervention, requiring education (on campus and online) on rape myths and preventing sexual
violence, enacting zero tolerance policies, and implementing campus-wide safety notification systems.
Received 25 May 2017
Revised 13 July 2017
8 August 2017
31 August 2017
Accepted 31 August 2017
This work was supported by the
Law Enforcement Management
Institute of Texas, Crime Victims
Institute, and the Department of
Criminal Justice and Criminology at
Sam Houston State University.
Brittany E. Hayes is an
Assistant Professor,
Eryn Nicole ONeal is an
Assistant Professor,
Katherine A. Meeker is a
Graduate Student,
Sarah A. Steele is a Graduate
Student, Patrick Q. Brady is a
Doctoral Student and
Matthew A. Bills is a Doctoral
Student, all at the Department
of Criminal Justice and
Criminology, Sam Houston
State University,
Huntsville, Texas, USA.
VOL. 10 NO. 2 2018, pp.112-122, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-05-2017-0293

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