The True Definition of Stalking: What is it and why does it happen – What are the consequences – How can parents stop it?
Stalking: What is it?
Stalking is a form of harassment. Per US Legal.com the legal defininition of stalkig is “a person who intentionally and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat, either expressed or implied, with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm, is guilty of the crime of stalking.”
Parents may not immediately associate the term “stalking” with children and their peers, but in today’s culture, bullying and stalking often go hand in hand. Stalking has always been viewed as an adult crime, but in current society some children and many teens deal with stalking via social media and general technology.
Not to be confused with the loosely used term “stalking” that describes someone who digitally follows another person via social media. Parents who follow their children’s online activities are frequently accused of “stalking” by their own kids. The type of stalking behavior discussed in this article is serious and is criminal in nature.
Cyber stalking has become the most common form of stalking among teens and adults. Social media provides a wealth of personal information which the perpetrator can use to torment and threaten his/her victim.
Per The National Center for Victims of Crime the cyber stalking definition is “threatening communication or unwanted advances directed at another person using the internet and other forms of online and computer communications”. This type of abusive or threatening communication may involve the use of email, smartphones, or other electronic communication devices to stalk, or harass, another person.
As in the traditional stalking definition, cyber stalking can be obsessive and/or sexual in nature. Prior to the internet, stalking was something done in real time, in person, and in close proximity. With modern technology, there is a certain level of anonymity for stalkers and the location of the perpetrator(s) at the time of “attack” is often unknown.
More traditional ways of stalking are equally, if not less, traumatic than online stalking. By switching usernames and passwords, the stalker can remain hidden for short periods of time while harassing their target. The drive behind this criminal behavior is to inflict power over another person for a desired result.
Stalking: Why does it happen?
As statistics show, most victims know their stalker. There is usually a relationship or rejection that spurs obsessive or sexual harassment; where control is frequently the point.
In school, stalking behavior can be linked to bullying or a romantic rejection. School age children and teens may be victimized due to peer pressures, cruel rumors, or a spawned crush.
Some offenders are computer savvy and are able to impersonate their victims and post messages, photos, and more as if they were this person. Controversial or suggestive material may be used to unnerve the victim and cause upset.
Stalking: How can parents stop it?
Children and teens should tell their parents or a trusted adult about any perceived threats or harassment. Children and especially teens may not be forthcoming with information so it is important for parents to establish rules concerning social media.
Kids and teens should be instructed to never give out personal and private information such as their phone number, full name, current school, address or even the city where they live. If contacted by a stranger online, especially by an adult, children and teens should be advised to always tell their parents, or at least another trusted adult.
Before parents can stop abuse, they must first be aware of it. Parents should know their child’s circle of friends and should regularly track their child’s online activity including cell phone communications. Children may perceive this as a violation of their privacy, but it is better to be “over-protective” and have arguments over freedom rather than suffer the consequences of hidden harassment or abuse.
When it has been revealed that a child or teen is being bullied and/or stalked, all contact with the offender should be documented and printed. Emails, chats, posts, etc. should all be saved for proof of cyber stalking. Parents should report stalking behavior to the school administration, and if the child’s physical safety is threatened, parents should call the local police.
Stalking: What are the consequences?
Stalking is a criminal offense; victims feel fear, vulnerability, and severe anxiety associated with the unpredictable behavior of the offender. The victim feels violated, constantly afraid, and once threatening behavior is documented as proof, the police may be contacted, and a criminal investigation may begin. The consequences of stalking may range in extreme punishment ranging from fines to a lengthy prison term.
Punishment may vary between states due to individual laws and the definition of stalking. In Texas, for example, these are possible consequences for committing the crime of stalking:
2-10 years – 1st conviction
2-20 years – subsequent convictions
$10,000 fine – 1st conviction and subsequent convictions
Stalking is defined simply as unwanted contact between two people where a perceived threat is believed. A stalker may follow their victim physically, online, or both. When this unwanted attention is directed towards a child or teenager, the intimidation and anxiety may be all consuming.
It is up to the parent to take action to protect their child, especially if the stalker is not a peer but an adult. Even at peer level, the unpredictability of a stalker’s behavior is potentially dangerous, but when an adult has targeted a child or teen, there are probably psychological factors at play. Police should be contacted immediately.
Parents are the first layer of authority and need to be informed of any stalking activity involving their children. Stalk definition vary by state with different legal standards but in all 50 states the term is understood to mean continued harassment. Celebrity stalkers make the news with their obsessions and often violent endings, but stalking in the general public is more common than people realize. As a parent it is imperative to educate children and teens of the possible dangers of stalking both physically and online and have rules set in place to keep family communication open.
Stalker Meaning: You are being stalked when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe. A stalker meaning can allude to someone you know, a past boyfriend or girlfriend or a stranger. Learning this simple stalker meaning can help you escape a stalker!