In recent years, stalking has evolved from the traditional expressions of obsession, which involved, following, monitoring, harassing the victim and attempts at intimidation. Now the act can be performed through the Internet and is, therefore, referred to as cyber stalking when adults are involved and cyber bullying for children.
Recent online stalking statistics indicate that approximately 52% of the nation’s students are being bullied online. This type of stalking takes the form of attempts at damaging the victim’s reputation by posting negative information about them on social media sites. These online communities are generally large, therefore, the information spreads quickly to a large number of individuals. Many children are unable to handle this type of abuse and often times embarrassment, hence there have been incidents children committing suicide as a result of this abuse. Social network stalking, and should be addressed as soon as it is identified, especially when children are involved.
It has been estimated that 75% of cyber stalking victims know their stalkers, which means that the victims can at any time be approached. With online stalking the perpetrator of the abuse can be anywhere in the world, however, he or she may very likely be close. There are occasions in which the stalker tries to meet the victim, children usually fall prey to this request and may become victims of sexual abuse if they agree to meet the individuals. While the internet has many benefits, online stalking statistics shows that certain precautions need to be taken while using it.
In a survey, it was found that approximately 3 million individuals over 18 have been victimized by instances of stalking in any of its forms. Not everyone reports this problem, however, every victim of this crime should.
In a Supplementary Victimization Survey done under the National Victimization Survey in 2006, there were specific stalking behaviors that were measured. They included the following:
- Waiting for the victim
- Giving presents
- Unsolicited phone calls, letters or emails
- Sharing rumors over the internet or by mouth
It was found that out of every four stalking victims, one reported online stalking through email, for example, this accounted for 83% and instant messages (IM) 35%. The definition of stalking in all its forms takes into account the fact that the actions are performed repeatedly. The actions performed individually are not considered a crime only when they are done frequently.
Cyberstalking involves repeatedly threatening, sharing false information, and even identity theft, which is considered a fraudulent activity. The intent, however, is to harm the victim’s reputation and not necessarily financial gain. Even with the possibility of legal recourse through the federal laws against stalking online, a person’s reputation may have been damaged. Therefore, other strategies must be taken to remedy the situation. These may include getting software that can protect against identity theft. This involves protecting all type of personal information that may be recorded online. This is more of a preventative measure. It involves monitoring the individuals’ credit by keeping track of any online transaction made and reporting it immediately to the credit card holder. However, if the negative information is already present on the web, it can be hidden. Companies that offer this service also offer the chance of receiving updates on Internet searches for their names and negative information that appears on the online. These services may also help businesses that also need to ensure that their brand image is not being damaged by negative comments made online.
Cyber stalking and harassment
It is essential that stalking be detected early; therefore you should keep an eye out for perpetrators. There are certain repeated actions that may clue victim into the fact that someone online is stalking them.
- If there, is someone contacting you frequently through various means such as emails and instant messages you may have a stalker.
- Are you being asked many personal questions? It is possible that the person is a stalker and is trying to collect personal information for later use. This information may be used for identity theft. It may also be used to determine where the you live or work, so
- If someone, who should not have knowledge of certain private information, expresses said information to you, this may be a sign that you are being stalked.
- Is the person always joining the same forums or posting immediately after you do? This may definitely be a sign that you are being monitored online.
- Are your friends and family member getting messages about you from the individual?
What to do to prevent it
- Start documenting the contacts
- Report it immediately- A web crime report can be made with to any law enforcement agency.
- Change your account information and change your email address
- Do not communicate with the person
Certain safety measures should be taken when online. Because of the seeming anonymity of the stalker, it makes the crime even more worrisome. The culprit could very well be someone that is known to you, someone to which you have possibly confided in or it may just be a stranger who feels that you have somehow slighted them. The fact is that this worrying trend can affect your life in many ways. The negative information posted about you may affect your future prospects, even job prospects, since many employers during the employment screening process may perform a background check that may return the negative, and often time false information posted about you. It is therefore, important that you take the necessary measures to protect yourself and your reputation.