Study abroad is an exciting, fun, and rewarding experience that offers life-long benefits. Most US students that study abroad choose a European destination as their study abroad destination. Europe’s languages, art, culture, traditions and history appeal to students throughout the world. But rememeber, every place, no matter how wonderful, is still a place. And every place has its social issues and woes. Crime exists in Europe just as it exists in your home town. Safe study abroad depends on many factors. Crime rates in your study abroad country are obviously a very important factor in a safe study abroad experience.
As the graphic below shows, crime rates in all countries can fluctuate. During 2006 – 2009 crime rates in Denmark increased an astonishing +34%. Crime in Sweeden shot up +14%, while crime in Belgium increased +7% (Rape and sexual assault are highest in Belgium, per capita in 2008).
The purpose of this post is simple: to remind you that crime of some sort is present in all countries, and that there are plenty of online resources that you can use (start with a simple internet search) to help in your study abroad decision making and planning process.
A quick search on crime statistics, for example, showed that nearly all of the top 10 study abroad destinations for US students have serious crime rates that are lower than those for the United States.
Our quick glimpse at 2010-2012 crime statistics revealed a few things:
A. The safest countries in Western Europe:
6. The Czech Republic
9. England and Wales
10. Denmark (even though crime surged +34% during 2006 – 2009)
B. At the bottom of the safest countries list in Western Europe
1. Belgium (least safe, high per capita homicides and rape/sexual assault rates)
5. Northern Ireland
C. The top 10 safest countries in Central and South America
5. Costa Rica
D. At the bottom of the safest countries list in Central and South America
4. El Salvador
E. In Asia and the Pacific Rim, the statistical rates for crime in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand were in the same low range as for Western Europe.
Before you select your study abroad destination, consider how safe the country is and how safe the city is where you want to study.
Belgium, for example, has some unflattering crime statistics. However, our quick look at Belgium showed that Brussels, Liege and Charleroi experienced elevated crime rates (relative to Bruges and Ghent, which had lower crime rates), while Antwerp had crime rates about 20% below Brussels.
So, if you have your heart set on Belgium to study abroad, you migth want to look into Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp and you might want to avoid Brussels, Liege, and Charleroi.
A little research will provide you with plenty of helpful information and help to make your experience abroad a safer, more enjoyable experience. So get informed before you make your trip and stay informed while you are abroad.
There are plenty of sites where you can get relevant information. Here are some that we looked at:
http://www.heuni.fi/en/ (European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control)