Today, there is heavy focus on campus safety, particularly on the threat of active shooters. In January during National Stalking Awareness Month, we are asked to take a step back and focus on another threat to college students: stalking.
The statistics are shocking. 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States. About half of all stalking victims are under the age of 25.
According to a recent Centers for Disease Control Report, the most commonly reported stalker tactics include:
- Approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim didn’t want them to be there;
- Making unwanted telephone calls
- Leaving the victim unwanted messages (text or voice)
- Watching or following the victim from a distance
- Spying on the victim with a listening device, camera, or global positioning system
Given that the highest rate of stalking occurs with 18-24 year-olds, college students can take the following steps to improve their safety:
Stalking Safety Tips:
- Trust your instincts. If you’re somewhere that doesn’t feel safe, either find ways to make it safer, or leave.
- Vary your routines, including changing routes to work, school, the grocery store, and other places you frequent regularly. Limit time spent alone and try to shop at different stores and visit different bank branches
- If possible, have a phone nearby at all times. If you have a smart phone, download the Rave Guardian app. The Rave Guardian app lets you notify people you trust to check in on you if you are alone or in an unfamiliar place. You can easily communicate with those you trust within the app and you can call safety officials directly for help.
- Treat all threats, direct and indirect, as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
- Consider obtaining a protective order against the stalker. Some states offer stalking protective orders and other victims may be eligible for protective orders under their state’s domestic violence statutes.
Stalking is one of the few crimes where early intervention can prevent death. Remember to trust your instincts and rely on those you trust for help. Use the above safety tips to remain safe on campus and call Campus Safety or 9-1-1 in an emergency.