Warning: Notifications About Crime on Campus May Have Unwanted Effects
The 1990 Jeanne Clery Act mandates that U.S. colleges and universities issue reports about certain crimes and notifications about immediate threats. While the intent of these policies is to increase safety, researchers have raised concerns about the effectiveness of mobile notifications, the lack of context and detail in these short messages, and the variety in recipients’ interpretations. In this mixed-methods study, we are interested in the relationship between respondents’ worry about crime and their perceptions of and reactions to notifications about crime incidents on campus. We use a media studies approach, employing quantitative and qualitative survey questions as well as in-depth interviews with three campus officials to understand the production and reception of notification messages about crime. We find that some respondents seem inattentive to notifications, whereas others appear to overreact, which suggests that the Clery Act might actually decrease safety on college campuses.