Cyberstalking and the Dangers

When you release your information on the internet do you really know what dangers laying ahead?

Jazmine Cook, Journalist

 The Internet. We all use it and love it, but do we really know the dangers?

  One of the dangers, cyberstalking. What is cyberstalking? According to Legal Dictionary, cyberstalking is “using the Internet, email, or another type of electronic communications to stalk, harass, or threaten another person.”

  How can you tell if you are being cyberstalked? There are actually a few signs. One, your stalker will follow you on most social media. Two, they will continue to message you after you have already told them to leave you alone. Three, you get constant insulting or threatening messages or comments. Finally, your stalker will single you out on comments and posts.

  According to Dr. Emma Short, who is registered with the Health Professional Council as a Practitioner Psychologist and the co-director of the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research, notes that “cyberstalkers tend to be anxious and could suffer from from anxiety, depression, stress, and addictions. They may seem to be quite isolated and have a lack of social support.”

  Cyberstalkers may suffer from psychological problems, but that is not an excuse for harassing people and making people feel unsafe.    

  A study conducted by Harvard University shows that, on average, 1 out of 45 men (about 2 million) are victims of cyberstalking. Even though men are cyberstalked, 87% of stalkers are identified as men.

  The same study conducted by Harvard University shows that 1 out of 12 women (8.2 million) are victims of cyberstalking. Women are twice as likely to be victimized by strangers and 8 times more likely to be victimized by people they are close with.

  Cyberstalking is not gender-specific; it affects people of all genders, age, and ethnicities.  

  A study conducted by John Carroll University shows that people between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to be victims. 30% of people reported being injured emotionally or psychologically. In some cases it causes people to develop agoraphobia, the fear of leaving your house or never feeling safe.

  Why is it that younger people tend to be stalked more often?  Is it because they are more trusting, or could it be because they aren’t as careful as people who are older? It could also be because they use social media and the internet more often than others.

  The Computer Investigations and Technology Unit of the New York Police Department notes that almost 40% of the cases handled in that department involve electronic threats and harassment. They also say all of these cases have taken place within the past three or four years.  

  Roughly 10% of their cases a year involve electronic threats and harassment. That may not seem like a lot but it is.

  Andrea Cook, a PVHS sophomore, was cyber stalked at the age of 11. Her stalker would send her harassing messages and always seemed to know how to find her on social media.

  When asked why she thought she was being stalked, Cook said, “I was young and vulnerable. They saw me as an easy target.”

  People need to realize that not everything posted on social media is private. People can tell how vulnerable you will be based on your profile picture and also based on what you post. They can look at your profile picture and the things you post and be able to tell what type of person you are and if you are an easy target. Usually, stalkers will single out the more vulnerable people because they know that they can manipulate them into doing what they want.

  After being stalked, there are many things that you can do and many ways to get help with the psychological issues of being a victim. There are support groups, counseling, and even your friends and family can help you through it.

  Faith Russell, a student at PIMA Medical (a medical career college that trains students for careers as allied health care professionals who are distinct from nursing, medicine, and pharmacy according to Wikipedia), has been and is still currently being cyberstalked. During a discussion with Ms. Russell, she gave some advice for victims of cyberstalking. She said, “Speak up! Don’t keep it to yourself or hurt yourself like I did; it gets you nowhere.”

  Crimes on the Internet need to be taken seriously. Too many people are being harassed and not saying anything with the fear of nothing happening or the harassment increasing.

  Before you release your personal information online, you need to know all of the dangers of the Internet.