Stalking heightened on campuses, awareness should be widespread
Hema Khan from the Stalking Resource Center (SRC) of the National Center for Victims of Crime spoke on Tuesday about stalking awareness on campus. Rob Wilson/ The Daily Campus
The projector in Monteith 143 on Wednesday evening read "Stalking on Campus" in bold letters on a caution-tape yellow background. In 2012 there were 6.6 million cases of stalking in the U.S. That statistic translated for the UConn population comes out to 801 cases a year on our campus alone. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men will be stalked at one point throughout their lifetime. The prevalence of stalking on college campuses is higher than it is for the general population.
These were the statistics laid out for students that attended "Stalking on Campus" a presentation by the Stalking Resource Center (SRC) of the National Center for Victims of Crime. The event on Tuesday evening was hosted by UConn's Women Center and sponsored by the Community Response Team.
"Stalking is a crime that affects millions of people in our country every year," said Hema Khan, the Program Attorney for the SRC.
With an average of 801 cases of stalking at UConn annually, awareness of this crime should be more widespread. However, most of these cases go unreported. Like domestic violence and sexual assault, stalking is one of the most underreported crimes. According to SRC, about 83 percent of stalking cases are not reported to police or campus law, mostly because victims do not recognize the behaviors of stalking, or they minimize the crime. It is especially common for males to underreport stalking because of social stigmas where admitting fear is a threat to masculinity.
Khan stressed that the most victims of stalking know their stalker. Current or former intimate partners are the most likely stalkers. The most common form of behavior for stalkers is making unwanted phone calls. Most stalkers will make contact at least once a week, whether that be through social media, asking your friends about you, sending you gifts or several other approaches.
"Stalking is a crime that's rarely going to be in a vacuum," says Khan. Stalking is often the step before a sexual assault. Stalking is also linked to property crimes and identity theft.
There are many reasons why stalkers stalk, but Khan explained that one reason stalking is so prevalent is because they can. She pointed out that stalking behavior is portrayed in many forms of media as funny or romantic. She also stressed that it is important to think about the phrases that we use in everyday life.
"It was interesting to hear [Khan] talk about the language we use like phrases such as 'I raped that test' or 'Facebook stalking', " says Matthew Dempsey, an 8th-semester Special Education major who attended the event, "I was really grateful to hear her talk about that."
Khan and the audience exchanged a dialogue about what we could do to prevent so many cases of stalking on college campuses. Some of the solutions generated from this conversation were using privacy settings to protect yourself, being careful not to minimize the crime, being mindful of the language you use, training for officials, implementing and enforcing stalking policies on campus and finally promoting advocacy and awareness.
"The part where [Khan] said that people aren't always aware of what they're doing stuck with me." said Jose Figueroa, an 8th-semester Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies major, "Events could bring awareness and make people look at their own behaviors."
If you are a victim of stalking or know someone that is, please visit www.victimsofcrime.org/src or call 202-467-8700.
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