Why You Should Spotlight Stalking Awareness This Month

Stalking Awareness Month | What You Can Do

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 7 January 2016 |

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“During National Stalking Awareness Month, we stand with victims of stalking, pledge to bring their stalkers to justice, and rededicate our efforts to ridding our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods of this crime.” —President Barack Obama

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

stalking awarenessTo help the public better understand the crime of stalking, the National Center for Victims of Crime started National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) in 2004.

NSAM came about from Debbie Riddle, whose sister, Peggy Klinke, was murdered by a former boyfriend after he stalked her for years. Riddle called the Stalking Resource Center with a goal to transform her pain into something good that could help improve the response to stalking and ultimately save lives.

In addition to the creation of NSAM, that call lead to: a concurrent Congressional resolution on stalking; a national program on Lifetime Television, featuring Peggy’s story; and a Lifetime video that trains law enforcement about the crime.

Stalking on Higher Education Campuses

NSAM also helped to bring awareness to the problem of stalking on higher education campuses. According to Colorado State University’s Women and Gender Advocacy Center:

  • People age 18-24 experience the highest rates of stalking victimization.
  • More than 13% of college women indicated that they had been stalked during one college year.
  • Campus stalking incidents lasted an average of 60 days.
  • On college campuses, 3 in 10 college women report being injured emotionally or psychologically from being stalked.
  • Four in five campus victims knew their attackers.

In response to the growing concern about campus sexual violence, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which recognizes stalking as a crime and requires colleges and universities to collect and report information on stalking and other crimes.

How Campuses Can Help Prevent Stalking & Raise Awareness

Beside collecting information, there are several other ways higher education campuses can help to prevent stalking including developing a formal policy, offering prevention training and creating outreach collateral.

Develop a Formal Policy for Responding to Stalking

According to the Stalking Resource Center (SRC), many campus’ sexual violence policies and prevention efforts don’t address stalking. To fix this, the SRC recommends a dedicated policy that addresses stalking:

“A policy demonstrates institutional commitment to the issue and serves as an authoritative mechanism to inform the campus community about this serious crime. A policy on stalking can create guidelines for students, informs the campus body that stalking behaviors will not be tolerated, and can be a proactive measure in guiding student behavior on campus.”

The SRC even provides a comprehensive guide with examples of stalking policies that colleges and universities can adapt and implement on their campuses.

Deliver Stalking Prevention Training

VAWA requires higher education campuses receiving federal funding to educate students and employees about sexual violence—including stalking. And schools can accomplish this with stalking prevention training. To find out more about the topics that stalking prevention training should cover, check out this blog.

Distribute Outreach Materials

Getting the word out about your campus’ formal policy and prevention training is essential to preventing stalking. And you can do this by creating and distributing outreach materials such as fact sheets, posters, news releases, videos and social media updates.

A great outreach example comes from the University of Kentucky. The university’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History and OutrageUs, a non-profit organization focused on developing resources to bring awareness to intimate partner violence, launched The Stalking Project, which is a series of videos and other resources designed to highlight stalking and give a voice to victims.

To learn more about how your campus can help prevent stalking and raise awareness, check out our webinar: Complying with the Final VAWA Rules.

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