Sunday, July 10, 2011

Valencia Volunteers host stalker awareness event

     The openness of our digital society has caused virtual stalking to become increasingly common in the modern age. Stalking Awareness Month, and its sponsors, try to help individuals around the nation stay safe and informed about the dangers of obsessed predators.

     Information Stands, organized by peer educators and Valencia Volunteers, guided students in the lessons of stalker awareness. Valencia Volunteers member, Angelique Mulligan said, “We are working to spread information about stalker awareness and sexual assault awareness this month,” when asked about the mission of this event.

     Persons aged 18 to 24-years-old make up the highest percentage of stalking cases, and on average 3.4 million Americans are affected by this behavior each year.

     Stalking ranges from a single act to a series of acts centered on causing fear in a specific person. Seventy-five percent of victims are stalked by someone they know, with nearly 50 percent of victim’s receiving at least one unwanted contact per week.

     30 percent of victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner; one in five of these cases involves the stalker using a weapon to threaten or harm victims. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states with misdemeanor chargers for a first-time nonviolent offense, and felony charges for a second offense.

     Widely popular social media web sites share information with large numbers of people on the Internet. Users of social media should limit the personal data they release, and utilize all security and privacy settings to safeguard their information.

     An annual event, the awareness theme for this year is “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” This is meant to challenge people to fight this crime by learning more through information and education. Communities and individuals are encouraged to report stalking cases to authorities and promote general safety awareness.

By James Tutten

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