Health and Safety Resources for Parents and Families

We know that parents and families continue to play an important role in helping students make choices about their health and safety while they are in college. College is a time of increased independence and responsibility, so your student may have new experiences and choices to make related to drug and alcohol use, dating and relationships, inclusion and discrimination, mental health, and sex and consent while at USU.

Sometimes, these conversations can be difficult to start. And even if you feel confident having these conversations, you may not ultimately be the person that can provide the support that your student needs.

You can learn more about being a partner in prevention, and about the support resources available to your student at the links below.

Parents and Families as Partners in Prevention

Learn more about how to speak with your student about alcohol and drug use, dating and relationships, discrimination, mental health, and sex and consent.

General Ways to Discuss Health and Safety Topics – Before a Disclosure

Have conversations about health and safety topics over time and during "good" moments

  • The more that you normalize talking about health and safety topics, the more likely it is that your student will be okay with having those conversations. You can utilize a variety of moments as the “starting point” for your conversations, such as TV shows, movies, songs, radio commercials, activities, books, your own experiences, and religious teachings.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “Did you notice how [movie title] portrayed the relationship between [two characters]? What do you think about that?”
    • “When we were talking about [health and safety topic] in church the other week, it made me think about how you might have to make some new choices in that area once you’re in college. How do you think you’d respond in a situation related to [health and safety topic]?”
    • “I’ve been thinking about my own college experience and how I encountered some situations that I wasn’t sure how to address. Can we talk about some of those situations so you can be more prepared than I was?”

Emphasize that you want to have these conversations because you care about your student's health and safety while they are a USU student

  • Your student may assume that you want to have these conversations to get them in trouble or because you do not trust them, so make your intentions for talking about the topics clear.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I trust that you’re going to make the best decisions that you can while you’re in college, but I also think it’s important for us to discuss some situations that you may not be prepared to address.”
    • “I don’t want to have this conversation because I don’t trust you; I want to have it because I care about your health and safety while you’re in college.”
    • “I made some decisions when I was your age that I would do differently now. I think it’s important to talk about [health and safety topic] so you can make the most informed choice possible.”

Approach the conversations positively, not like a lecture or in the same way that you discipline your student

  • Be open regarding your thoughts and concerns about a health or safety behavior and allow your student to share their thoughts, including whether they agree or disagree with your ideas and concerns. These conversations should be a dialogue where you are both contributing to the discussion and listening to what the other person says.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I don’t want to lecture you about [health and safety topic] because I know that’s not how to have this conversation. I want to hear what you have to say so I can be supportive of you and help you make the best possible decisions.”
    • “I didn’t realize that’s how you feel about [health and safety topic]. Can you tell me more about why you think that way?”
    • “It seems like you feel differently about [health and safety topic] than I do. How can I be supportive of how you feel, while also telling you my own ideas about the [health and safety topic]?”

Recognize that your student has knowledge to contribute to the conversation

  • Although you may know more about the health or safety topic, it is important that your student also feels like their knowledge and ideas are being taken seriously by you. And if your student says they already know everything about the topic and do not want to discuss it anymore, encourage them to teach you what they know.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I know you’ve learned a lot about [health and safety topic] in school already, but college is a different environment than high school. How do you think [health and safety topic] will be different in college?”
    • “What do you already know about [health and safety topic]? What do you still want to know about it?”
    • “What is confusing to you about [health and safety topic]? What do you wish you would’ve learned about it before now?”

Resepct your student's privacy and their desire to be indpendent while they are in college

  • Your relationship with your student will likely change once they start college, which means that your student may make health and safety choices that you do not agree with or that they do not share with you. Utilize these “before” conversations to acknowledge your student’s ability to make their own decisions and reiterate your desire to help and support them while they are a USU student.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I know that it’s important for you to be able to make your own choices about [health and safety topic] while you’re in college. How can I support you in making the best possible decisions in that area?”
    • “What can I do to make it more likely that you will talk to me about the choices you make about [health and safety topic] while you’re in college?”
    • “I want to you to be able to talk to me about the choices you make about [health and safety topic] while you’re in college, even if you know I won’t agree with those decisions. What’s going to make it more likely that you’ll open up to me about your experiences in that area?”

General Ways to Discuss Health and Safety Topics – During a Disclosure

Liste and use appropiate body lanugauge during the conversation

  • Although your immediate reaction might be to ask a lot of questions about what your student is telling you or to express how you feel about the situation, it is important to listen to what they are saying without interruptions. It may take time for your student to determine how and what they want to share with you, so be patient during the process. Do not pressure them to tell you more than what they want to disclose. Your body language should communicate that you are open to hearing what your student has to say; it is okay to appear concerned.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I’m here for you. You can tell me as much or as little as you want about what happened.”
    • “I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m here to talk about it if you want to tell me more.”
    • “What do you think is important for me to know about your experience? What can I do to support you right now?”

Start by believing what your student says about their experience

  • People often don’t share harmful experiences with others because they fear that they won’t be believed, particularly if the experience happened in private. Your student may also be afraid to talk to you about a harmful experience because of choices that they made related to it that you may not agree with or support. They could be feeling doubt, shame, guilt, or embarrassment about the experience, and so they may not be willing or able to tell you everything that happened. By making it clear from the beginning of the conversation that you believe something happened that isn’t okay or that harmed your student, it is more likely that your student will continue talking to you about their experience.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I’m not going to judge you for what happened, even if you made a decision that I don’t agree with. I want to help you be safe and healthy, and that is what is most important right now.”
    • “I’m glad you told me about this. I’m sure it was hard to have this conversation with me.”
    • “I believe that this happened to you and I’m sorry that you experienced it. What can I do to support you?”

Verbalize respect for your student's decision

  • Even if your student made choices that you don’t agree with or support, it is important for you to respect what they choose to do after they have had a harmful experience. In some situations, their power and control may have been taken away from them, and so it is helpful for you to give autonomy back to them in whatever ways you can. This may mean being supportive of your student’s decisions not to seek help or support or to talk to someone at USU about their experience, even if you disagree with those choices.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I’m glad you told me about this. What can I do to support you now or in the future?”
    • “I’m happy to give you advice, but it’s important for you to be the one that makes the decision about what to do next. What do you think you want to do?”
    • “It sounds like you’ve made up your mind about what you want to do next. How can I be supportive of your decision?”

Recommend USU and/or community resources for your student

  • Respecting your student's privacy and their desire to be indpendent while they are in college is understanding that you may not be the best resource to help your student address the situation. Although we do our best to educate students about the resources available to them at USU, we know that students often don’t remember that information until they are in a situation where they need it. Being prepared to recommend USU and/or community resources that your student could contact for support is a way that you can help them start the problem-solving and/or healing process.
  • Example dialogue:
    • “I remember learning about a USU resource that can help with experiences like this. Would you like their contact information?”
    • “What do you think about talking to a USU resource about what you’ve experienced? Can I recommend some options to you?”
    • “A USU resource might be able to help you with this situation. Can I tell you about your support options?”

Health and Safety Topic Conversation Strategies

Alcohol and Drug Use

Dating and Relationships

Inclusion and Discrimination

Mental Health

Self-guided mental health resource library - aggiewellness.usu.edu/library/index

Consent, and Sexual Violence

Supporting Your Student

Learn more about USU’s support resources for alcohol and drug misuse, unhealthy relationships, discrimination, mental health issues, and sexual misconduct.

Sometimes, you may not be the best support for your student’s health or safety experiences or needs. USU and the surrounding community have many support and reporting resources available to help your student. In many situations, due to FERPA law restrictions, it is your student’s responsibility to notify someone at USU about their experience, so knowing which resources you can refer them to is important

Alcohol and Drug Misuse

USU Health and Wellness Center - https://health.usu.edu/wellness_center/alcohol-and-substance-abuse

Bias and Discrimination

Mental Health Issues

Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Stalking

Unhealthy Relationships