We’ve all heard of stalking. We’ve heard people jokingly say it in reference to Facebook, we’ve seen movies with it and we know that it’s often talked about as an issue for celebrities. But it’s also a real and serious problem that affects regular teens often, especially because of technology. So what is it? And what can you do to get help? Well, let’s take a look.
First, what is stalking?
Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would put a reasonable person in fear.
“Pattern of behavior” Stalking is not one isolated incident. It can be one behavior happening regularly, or many different types of threatening behaviors that happen over time
“Directed at a specific person” Stalking is targeted and intentional.
“That puts a reasonable person in fear” Why is it specified that the actions would scare a “reasonable person”? The definition is worded like this because fear is pretty vague. People are afraid of different things, making it hard to define scary actions or behaviors. The general rule is that if most people would think that the action or behavior is fear inducing, then it could be stalking.
Here are some facts that may surprise you:
Stalking is not just experienced by celebrities.
More than 3.4 million people are stalked each year. *
18- 24 year olds experienced the highest rates of stalking
This is an important issue for you. Why are teens/young adults so at risk? Technology plays a part of it, so does the fact that teens/young adults are in contact with each other constantly at school and on campuses. *
You are more likely to be stalked by someone you know than by a stranger
It’s a common misconception that stalking is mostly done by strangers. In fact, only 10% of stalking cases in the U.S. are committed by strangers. It’s more likely to be done by someone you know intimately like a boyfriend or girlfriend (30%) or a friend/roommate/neighbor (16%). *
*Stalking Victimization in the United States, BJS (2009)
Here’s what you can do if you feel like you may be being stalked.
- Tell someone. This means your friends, school counselors, teachers, or anyone who you feel comfortable talking about it with. See if they can help minimize your interaction with that person.
- Learn more. Visit the Stalking Resource Center website to get additional info.
- Talk to us. Talk about it with loveisrespect during a phone call or a chat. Let us know what’s going on in your situation.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Please help spread the word to your friends that they deserve to feel safe and comfortable in ALL relationships in their lives.