The Violence Prevention and Response Project hosted an information table at the Miller Nichols Library that focused on stalking awareness last month. The table provided students with information to help recognize the signs of stalking and educate students about how stalking looks in today’s society.
The literature provided to students included a definition of stalking: a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The literature also cautions that definitions can vary from state to state.
Kacie Otto, the new Violence Prevention Coordinator, shed some light on the modern reality of stalking.
“Most stalkers are somebody the victim knows,” Otto said. She added that technology has introduced a whole new type of stalking. Victims can now be stalked via social media and on their smart phones.
Stalkers can stalk a victim via social media by following their activity on sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Some stalkers can install spyware into a victim’s phone so that they can access their maps, messages, and pictures. The Violence Prevention and Response Project offers help to students who think that their devices could have been hacked.
According to the 2015 UMKC Climate Survey, fifty-eight students said that they experienced at least some form of stalking. One student claimed to receive a “creepy letter” from an individual. Another student claimed they were followed by another individual on campus. Students that experienced stalking said they felt annoyed, overwhelmed, and uneasy with the incident.
According to the National Stalking Awareness Month website, in January 2004 the National Center for Victims of Crime launched National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) to increase the public’s understanding of the crime of stalking. NSAM emerged from the Stalking Resource Center, a National Center program funded by the Office on Violence Against Women. U.S. Department of Justice, to raise awareness about stalking and help develop and implement multidisciplinary responses to the crime.
The Violence Prevention and Response Project is one of many resources on the UMKC campus. Approximately 40 UMKC students visited the information table at Miller Nichols Library. Students created healthy relationship bookmarks. The bookmarks listed signs of healthy boundaries in intimate relationships. The bookmark serves as a daily reminder to be aware of stalking and to maintain healthy relationships.