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The Impact of Stalking in College: Understanding and Implementing Solutions

Updated: Apr 6

College is a time of growth, exploration, and self-discovery for many young adults. However, for some students, the college experience can become a nightmare due to the pervasive issue of stalking.

The Impact of Stalking in College: Understanding and Implementing Solutions
The Impact of Stalking in College: Understanding and Implementing Solutions

It is reported that 18-24-year-olds experience the highest rates of stalking among adults. Stalking in college campuses has far-reaching consequences, affecting the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of its victims. In this article, we will explore the impact of stalking in college and discuss potential solutions to address this alarming issue.


What is Stalking?

While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, Title IX and the Clery Act have a good working definition of stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to;

  1. Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or

  2. Suffer substantial emotional distress.


Understanding the Stalking Problem


Stalking is a pattern of unwanted, intrusive, and often frightening behaviors that create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity for the victim. In the context of college campuses, stalking can take various forms, including cyberstalking, in-person harassment, and unwanted attention. It is essential to recognize that stalking is not limited to a specific gender, and both men and women can be victims.


The Impact of Stalking


Mental Health Consequences: Stalking can have severe psychological effects on its victims. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common mental health issues that may arise from being stalked. Victims often experience constant fear, hypervigilance, and a loss of trust in others.


Academic and Career Disruption: Stalking can lead to a decline in academic performance and hinder future career prospects. Constant harassment and anxiety can make it challenging for victims to focus on their studies and internships, affecting their overall success. School-Related Impacts for Stalking Victims Include:

• Difficulty concentrating in class, on assignments, and during exams

• Missing meetings and extra-curricular activities

• Dropping classes

• Lower grades

• Considering dropping out of school

• Changing living situation, like moving out of dorms


Social Isolation: Victims of stalking may withdraw from social activities, clubs, and friendships due to fear and embarrassment. This isolation can exacerbate the emotional toll of stalking and hinder personal growth.


Physical Health Consequences: The stress and anxiety caused by stalking can manifest physically, leading to headaches, sleep disturbances, and even chronic health issues.


Legal and Safety Concerns: Stalking can escalate to physical violence, making it a matter of personal safety. Victims often require legal protection and support from law enforcement to ensure their safety.


How Stalkers Misuse Technology

Stalkers misuse common technology and use specialized technology to facilitate stalking: 24% of college stalking victims have had a stalker create a fake profile pretending to be the victim.

  • 21% have experienced spoofing (calls, texts, or e-mails in which the stalker makes the contact seem that is coming from someone else).

  • 16% have been doxed (had private or identifying information published publicly online).

  • 16% have been the victim of non consensual sharing of intimate images.


Who Are The Stalking Offenders

The majority of college student victims are stalked by someone they know. Most stalkers are also students. The most common stalkers are;

  • 33% Former intimate partners

  • 31% Someone the victim knows or recognizes but is not a friend

  • 25% Friends

  • 18% Classmates

  • 14% Current intimate partners

Stalking is a pattern of unwanted and intrusive behaviors directed towards a specific individual, causing fear, distress, or harm. Stalking can take many forms, and perpetrators often use a combination of tactics to exert control over their victims. Here are some common ways in which people stalk:

  • 45%Unwanted voice or text messages

  • 44% Unwanted emails or social media

  • 37% Being approached or seeing the stalker show up at places when the victim did not want them to be there.


Solutions to Address Stalking in College


Violence prevention and self-defense training can be powerful tools for empowering college women against stalking. These programs not only teach practical skills for self-defense but also promote awareness, confidence, and assertiveness. Here's how violence prevention and self-defense training can empower college women against stalking:


Increased Awareness: Violence prevention training often includes discussions on recognizing signs of potentially dangerous situations, including stalking behaviors. Women who undergo this training become more attuned to their surroundings and are better equipped to identify potentially unsafe situations early on.


Improved Self-Confidence: Self-defense training builds self-confidence by teaching women how to defend themselves physically if necessary. Confidence gained through self-defense training can deter potential perpetrators, as they are less likely to target individuals who appear assertive and capable.


Assertiveness and Boundaries: Both violence prevention and self-defense training emphasize assertiveness skills, teaching women how to set and enforce personal boundaries. Learning to say "no" firmly and assertively can discourage individuals with malicious intent.


Physical Skills: Self-defense training equips women with physical techniques to protect themselves when confronted with an immediate threat. These skills can help women create an opportunity to escape and seek help in dangerous situations.


Emotional Resilience: Training programs often focus on building emotional resilience, teaching women how to manage fear, stress, and panic during high-pressure situations.

Emotional resilience is a crucial aspect of self-defense, as staying calm can improve decision-making and response effectiveness.


Knowledge of Personal Safety Strategies: Violence prevention training covers personal safety strategies, such as avoiding risky situations, staying aware in public spaces, and using technology safely. These strategies can reduce the likelihood of becoming a stalking victim.


Empowerment Through Community: Violence prevention and self-defense training often foster a sense of community among participants. Women can support and empower each other, sharing their experiences and knowledge about staying safe.


Encouragement to Report: These programs encourage participants to report any incidents of stalking or harassment to campus authorities or law enforcement. Reporting is essential for addressing stalking cases effectively and preventing further harm.


Ongoing Practice: Women who undergo self-defense training are encouraged to practice regularly, which helps maintain their physical and mental readiness. Continual practice reinforces skills and keeps women prepared to respond to threats.


Comprehensive measures, including education, awareness campaigns, support services, and legal enforcement, are essential components of a holistic approach to combating stalking. Empowering college women through training is just one piece of the larger puzzle in creating safer college environments.



Campus Solutions to Address Stalking in College


Prevention and Awareness Campaigns: Colleges and universities must raise awareness about stalking and its consequences. Prevention programs can educate students on recognizing and reporting stalking behaviors. Additionally, workshops on healthy relationships and consent can contribute to a safer campus environment.


Reporting Mechanisms: Institutions should establish clear reporting mechanisms for stalking incidents. Confidential reporting options can encourage victims to come forward without fear of retaliation. Campus security and local law enforcement should work together to address these reports promptly.


Support Services: Colleges should offer comprehensive support services for stalking victims, including counseling, legal assistance, and academic accommodations. These services can help victims cope with the emotional and practical challenges they face.


Training for Staff and Faculty: Faculty and staff should receive training on recognizing signs of stalking and responding appropriately. This includes knowing how to refer victims to support services and reporting incidents to the appropriate authorities.


Technology Solutions: Since cyberstalking is prevalent, colleges should invest in cybersecurity measures to protect students' personal information. Additionally, IT departments can educate students on how to secure their online presence and report online harassment.


Community Involvement: Engaging the entire campus community in anti-stalking efforts is crucial. Students, faculty, and staff should be encouraged to look out for each other, report suspicious behavior, and support victims.


Legal Measures: Institutions can work with local law enforcement to ensure that stalking cases are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Legal measures such as restraining orders can provide protection for victims.


Stalking in college is a pervasive and damaging issue that can have lasting effects on its victims. It is essential for colleges and universities to recognize the seriousness of the problem and take proactive steps to prevent and address stalking on their campuses.


Implementing prevention programs, support services, and robust reporting mechanisms, colleges can create a safer and more supportive environment for all students, ensuring that they can focus on their education and personal growth without the shadow of stalking looming over them. It is the responsibility of educational institutions to prioritize the safety and well-being of their students and take action against this insidious threat.


Violence Prevention and Self Defense Resources

CVPSD non-denominational, and apolitical organization originally founded in response to the reemergence of violent anti-Semitism and religious bullying affecting communities across the world. CVPSD quickly evolved to become a community-wide partner, helping all Americans who are being intimidated and bullied.


The goal of the Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense is to stop violence by educating at-risk people and empower them with the skills needed to protect themselves both online and live training. CVPSD's live training is available to people of all ages in New Jersey including children, adults and the elderly.


Live conceptual seminars teach the origins of violence and how to assess risk and set boundaries for healthy relationships. Experiential classes teach hands-on interpersonal skills and strategies to prevent and stop assault. Our self defense instruction includes techniques from Jujutsu, MMA, Krav maga, Kickboxing, Karate and more.


The Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public. By reducing the fear and impact of violence, we help to create a community where people live powerfully, experience freedom.

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