Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

The Perception of Safety between Drinkers and Non-Drinkers among U.S. College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

The Perception of Safety between Drinkers and Non-Drinkers among U.S. College Students

Article excerpt


Increasing episodes of campus violence have warranted an investigation into college students' perception of safety on campus. In this study, 56,811 students responded to the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey during the 2010 academic school year. Numerous universities administered the survey and students completed the survey either in class or electronically. More than 92% of non-drinkers (n=19,481) felt safe on campus compared to 94% of drinkers (n=31,443). A higher proportion of non-drinkers (almost 8%, n=1,603) felt unsafe compared to those who drink alcohol (about 6%, n=1,998). After adjusting for gender, race/ethnicity, and place of residence, students who felt unsafe on campus had 20% less odds of drinking compared to students who felt safe. Students who drink may have a false sense of security, take unnecessary risks, or place themselves in dangerous situations. These findings confirm the need for education and awareness campaigns among college students to reduce victimization and perpetration related to alcohol use.

Key words: safety, violence, college, alcohol


Drinking on college campuses in the United States is a serious public health issue that has not been addressed in an effective manner. Alcohol is the most widely used and abused substance during the college years (Baker & Boland, 2011). An important correlate to consider is problem drinking among college students and its relationship to sexual aggression, acts of violence, and criminal activity (Baker & Boland, 2011). In a study conducted by Brahms, Ahl, Reed, and Amaro (2011), women who experienced sexual violence reported less use of protective alcohol strategies and more mental health symptoms (Brahms et ah, 2011). Alcohol use before or during verbal aggression was also negatively associated with condom use (Fair & Vanyur, 2011). A reduction in condom use may lead to an increase in pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections. In the same study, alcohol use was also significantly associated with a rise in occurrences of coercion and aggression. Another study performed by researchers confirmed this finding that the expression of aggression and violence are strongly linked to alcohol intoxication, and males display more pro-violent attitudes than females (Mitchell, Rutherford, Wrinch, & Egan, 2008).


Excessive alcohol use can result in many damaging effects. These effects can impact the drinker as well as those individuals in the immediate environment (i.e., secondary effect of someone else's alcohol use) (Kapner, 2008). The damaging effects' of excessive alcohol use include issues such as poor academic achievement, engaging in risky behaviors such as unplanned sexual encounters, and the engagement in violent acts of behavior including fights and sexual victimization (Hingson, Heeren, Winter, & Weschler, 2005; Logan, Teague, Vaughn, Luk, & King, 2012). As for the secondary effect, individuals can be exposed to violent acts of those abusing alcohol; these acts may include being sexually harassed, fights, injuries, and theft or destruction of property (Kapner, 2008). In fact, it has been estimated that in 2009, 696,000 college students were assaulted by another student who had been drinking and 599,000 college students were unintentionally injured while being drunk (Hingson et al., 2005). When exploring the causes of alcohol use/abuse and the subsequent negative consequences, there is a need to explore the environment in which the behavior takes place. Researchers have suggested that the environment may be as strong, if not stronger, than individual factors when it comes to college alcohol use (Quinn & Fromme, 2011; Weitzman, Nelson, & Weschler, 2003).


According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), among young adults aged 18 to 25, an estimated 62.9% of males and 57.5% of females were current drinkers. …

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