The dangers of cyberstalking, and what can be done to stop it
Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched or followed? In some cases, it might be cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking can be dangerous, even though it is often seen as less of a threat than being physically stalked. According to Sexual Aggression Peer Advocate’s Services Director Stephen Thompson, there are two types of cyberstalking, both containing dangers to be aware of.
“The first being when someone sees your name or picture and follows you without any contact,” Thompson said. “The second is when you are creating an online relationship, which can lead to trying to make contact. When your name is out there, it is difficult to take precautions. After all, it is not rocket science to find someone from their name.”
Thompson said people should be aware of the dangers involved and take proper precautions, even though it is difficult to prevent cyberstalking.
“I deal with people being stalked on a daily basis, but it is difficult to take precautions nowadays because of technology,” Thompson said. “One cell phone number can lead to someone being tracked through a GPS application. Stalkers can easily retrieve any information through too much information, like on Facebook. All the phone apps and Internet sources are a stalker’s wonderland.”
Not sharing too much information online is one way to prevent an incident from taking place, but law enforcement is also available if needed.
“If you feel like you are being stalked, then document everything first and then go to the police,” Thompson said. “Never underestimate stalkers. When you are being stalked, the only way to end it is to either move away or there has to be a consequence to their behavior, which typically leads to law enforcement.”
Central Michigan University Police Department Lt. Cameron Wassman said there are specialized procedures a student should follow if they suspect they are being cyberstalked.
“Ideally, we would like someone to contact the police department,” Wassman said. “Once contacted, we take it into further investigation to ultimately stop the unwanted contact from happening and prevent an incident from happening. We always take into account the victim’s best interest.”
In some cases, cyberstalking may not seem to be a big threat, but its prevalence can lead to dangerous situations. Experts say cyberstalking can easily be seen as the foundation of a bigger problem, which is why it should be detected early and reported immediately.
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