Keeping Daughters Safe When They Go Off to College

By Ting Pen

The roller coaster of college acceptances and decisions is finally done, and pretty soon, you'll be hauling hampers and hangers and laptops to your daughter's first dorm room. It is nerve-wracking to send your children off to college, and even scarier saying goodbye to your daughters. They're living alone for the first time and you want to make sure that their new home is safe.

Though they will likely be living on campus for their first year, they might eventually make the decision to move off campus or take a job in the nearby area. We analyzed rates of murder, stalking, and rape from the CDC, Violence Policy Center, and FBI crime statistics to compile a list of the safest and least safe cities in the country for women. Hopefully some of our findings will help you get a better sense of the area surrounding your child's new home.

Here are some safety considerations to take into account when helping your daughter choose where she'll be living for the next four years and some tips to keep her safe when she gets there.

1. Large cities aren't necessarily unsafe.

The stereotype is that larger urban cities are dangerous places, but our studies show that proportionately, large cities are fairly safe for women. Fresno, San Francisco and New York City rank pretty high for safety actually. Our five most dangerous cities for women actually had populations below 400,000.

2. The safest places for women tend to be suburbs of large cities.

Our top 10 cities for women are mostly clustered around larger cities like Chicago and San Francisco. If your daughter has the option of living off-campus, she might consider living in the suburbs if safety is a concern.

3. Just because a city is unsafe in general, it doesn't mean that it is particularly unsafe for women.

There is very little correlation between women's safety and overall crime. This might be because the majority of murders, especially in crime-ridden areas, are perpetrated against men. A good example of this is Miami. Though it ranks very low in terms of overall crime, it ranks relatively well on our list of the safest cities for women.

4. Make sure she buddies up and understands how the campus safety system works.

In a new place, it's generally a good idea to have someone to explore with and have her back - such as a roommate. Having a second person around reduces the likelihood of assault by a significant amount. They should also establish a protocol of checking in on each other every night, memorize the campus safety emergency telephone number, and familiarize themselves with the precautions that the campus safety department recommends.

5. Check and see if the school she is attending has been flagged by the Department of Education for Title IX violations.

Of course, this isn't a perfect indicator of the number of sexual assaults on college campuses. In many instances, sexual assault is severely underreported. However, if a school is on this list, then it is being investigated by the federal government for mishandling incidents of gender bias, harassment, or sexual assault.

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Ting Pen is a founder and analyst at, a personal finance research and analysis website. She writes on a number of topics ranging from colleges to consumer finance.