By: Hugo Sanchez *
This past Thursday, I had the pleasure to attend a presentation about cyberstalking and its prevalence. It was jointly hosted by UPD and by IT@SAM. The information presented was both startling and disturbing.
Stalking, as defined by the Department of Justice, is “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Cyberstalking is the use of technology to stalk an individual. Stalkers use all sorts of technology to harass others, including, but not limited to email, web, texting, social media, online impersonation, hidden cameras, phone spoofing, and GPS.
Cyberstalking (“electronic harassment”) is a crime as defined by both Federal law and in all 50 states. “Impersonating an individual on the internet” is a crime in some states and the punishment for many is 1 year in prison. Here in Texas, it is considered a felony with imprisonment up to 10 years.
6.6 million people are stalked each year in the United States, with 1 in 5 people experiencing cyberstalking. In the college arena, those numbers get larger, with it being 1 in 3 people. 40% of stalkers are male, 40% are female, and 20% are unknown.
What can you do to prevent someone from stalking you? Here are some tips from IT@SAM:
- Don’t share personal Information online with strangers.
- Don’t fill out non-required fields when registering online.
- Create a different email account for social networking.
- Don’t flirt or start an online argument.
- Reset passwords when breaking up.
- Do an Internet search on yourself from time to time.
In the case that you or someone you know is being stalked, here are the rules that UPD suggests you follow:
- Trust your instincts, if it feels wrong, then it most likely is.
- Tell them “LEAVE ME ALONE” – you must make it clear to the stalker, in court of law this simple message will have the biggest impact as you indicated that the contact was unwanted.
- Save all communication between the stalker and you. Keep a stalker log, where you should document time, date, incident, location, witness names, if you called the police and if so, the badge number of the officer. It is of the upmost importance that you document every incident so you can make a stronger case for the police to act.
- If you fear for your safety, contact the police.
The thress most important things to remember when you are being stalked are: 1. You must make it clear that the stalker’s actions are unwanted and they must stop. 2. Document, Document, and Document. 3. Call the Police.
To Contact the SHSU Police Department:
- Phone: (936) 294-1794
- Emergency on-campus: 4-1000
- Emergency off-campus: (936) 294-1000
SHSU Crime Victim’s Institute
- Phone: (936) 294-3100
- Fax: (936) 294-4296
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Academic Building 1, Room 145
- Faculty/Staff Line: 936-294-HELP (936-294-4357)
- Student Line: 936-294-1950
Or, in an emergency, dial 911
Cyberstalking is not a joke, it’s romantic, it’s not ok, and it’s not cute. It’s a real crime.
If you have a legal matter that has left you with questions or may even be distracting you from your studies, SLMS is here to help you get back to the important work of your academic career. Call us at 936-294-1717 or email us at email@example.com to set up and appointment with our attorney.
The United States Department of Justice – http://www.justice.gov/ovw/stalking
National Center for Victims of Crime – http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center
End Stalking in America – http://www.esia.net/Common_Traits_of_Stalkers.htm
National Cyber Security Alliance – http://www.staysafeonline.org/about-us/news/cyberstalking-is-a-real-crime-one-in-five-americans-affected-by-unwanted-contact
Stalking Awareness Month.org – http://stalkingawarenessmonth.org/sites/default/files/Social%20Media%20Updates%202015.pdf
Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center – http://sapac.umich.edu/article/322
WHOA (Working to Halt Online Abuse) – http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/stats/2013Statistics.pdf
National Network to End Domestic Violence – http://nnedv.org/news/4428-stalking-awareness-2015.html