Stalking rates rise nationally

National stalking rates have been found to be the highest for the 18-19 and 20-24 age ranges – 30 and 29 percent, respectively – according to a report released this month by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“I think that it would be good for people to know that stalking is happening in this country and that the Department of Justice is very concerned about it. They have just released this report. They actually are really trying to do a lot more public relations around the issue of stalking,” LuAnn Rolley, Director of the UVM Women’s Center said.

Highlights of the report include the rise of cyber stalking, with one in four stalking victims reporting some form of cyber stalking such as e-mail (83 percent) or instant messaging (35 percent).

At UVM, trends in stalking are difficult to chart, mainly because many cases may go unreported.

“It is all relative, because when we talk about stalking rates being up … it is in comparison to what we see semester by semester,” Rolley said.

“We have no idea how many crimes go un-reported. Often times students in particular have difficulty naming that it is stalking,” Rolley said. “[Stalking] can be telephone calls, emails, showing up at your class or outside of your residential hall… those are some common ones on campus that happen.”

The Women’s Center reported three cases of stalking for the Fall 2008 semester. The UVM Police Service’s records back to January 2006 had five total cases where stalking charges were brought.

“The way that UVM police handles it is in accordance with state law. So for our police department it is a law that gets investigated and prosecuted, we also work with the Judicial Affairs office to insure the safety of the person being stalked,” Gary Margolis, Chief of UVM Police Services said.

According to the Bureau’s report, 49 percent of victims that they surveyed perceived stalking to stay the same after contacting the police for the first time, 29 percent perceived stalking to get better, and 23 percent perceived stalking to get worse.

“If I was being stalked … I can’t say that I would know what to do,” Libby Radoux, a UVM sophomore, said. “I don’t know anyone who has been really stalked, but I know that word gets thrown around all of the time when people talk about ‘Facebook stalking.'”

“More education is needed around the issues of what are possible behaviors that indicate stalking, I think it is also important for there to be education on letting the students know that there are resources on campus for them… and that the victim’s advocate is available to talk to them about this,” Rolley said.