Without being aware of it, we’ve all done our fair share of stalking, whether or not one would like to admit it. We have all at least once innocently went through the feed of someone on social media thinking it is okay to see what they posted three years ago. This happened with, and to each and every one of us without stopping to think about how creepy this has become. Keep that scenario in mind, and think about how scary it is if someone in real life followed you around daily to see what you were doing each day; terrifying, isn’t it?
Stalking, according to the Department of Justice in the United States, is “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”
According to statistics made by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), “as many as 200,000 Americans are currently being stalked.”
Stalkers can either be male or female. It is defined in certain legal jurisdictions in particular cities and states in the US and Australia as a criminal offense punishable by law. According to SAPAC, “1 in 20 women will become targets of stalking behavior at least once during their lifetimes,” and that almost 80% of stalkers are reported to be males stalking females.
Stalking is also a form of sexual harassment. Examples of stalking behavior include following or appearing within one’s sight, approaching or confronting someone in a public place or on private property, appearing at one’s workplace, home, or school uninvited, and even entering onto a property someone owns, leases, or occupies without prior welcome, along with many other behaviors.
Stalking is a crime. It is an invasion of privacy. It spreads fear, danger and abuse. Long ago, people used to stalk others by personally following the victim. Nowadays, with social media occupying our lives, stalking has become easier; anyone can stalk his/her victim through different social media platforms.
Keep the aforementioned in mind the next time you accept a stranger’s friend request on Facebook or Instagram; you could be welcoming a new stalker to your life.
- Souad Khalil
Communication and Social Media Student