Responding to Victims of Stalking on Campus
Rebecca Dreke, Connie Kirkland  -  2014/1/22
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
What are the main challenges experienced when investigating and prosecuting stalking on campus and how it might differ from stalking not specific to the campus setting?
 
1.  Connie
 Usually, a campus stalking case has complimentary incidents in other jurisdictions.. at work, at home, at parties, etc. So, pulling all the incidents together into one case is sometimes difficult. The victim and the advocate can keep logs that will inform any police agency that is involved... so that all parts of the case are included.
 
2.  Rebecca Dreke
 Good question - and the answer(s) will really depend on the case and the specific variables. But some common challenges are evidence collection (for instance this can pose a challenge when all the stalking occurs in an online space), victim participation in the investigation, offender behaviors and characteristics and the school's willingness to treat stalking as a crime. Campuses that have clear, specific stalking policies may have an easier time in investigating and prosecuting these cases as their policy should clearly define all the elements and also the rights of all parties. Moreover, campuses may be able to better hold stalking offenders accountable than the criminal process might, depending on the state statute. To learn more about this, please see the Model Policy on our website.
 
 
How prevalent is stalking on campuses?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 Great question. The short answer is very prevalent. But exact estimates are somewhat difficult to come by. We do know that of the 6.6 million stalking victims in the United States each year, more than half of the female survivors and more than one-third of the male survivors say the were stalked before the age of 25. Many studies have shown that stalking is more prevalent among college aged persons than the general population. To see more about stalking prevalence rates, please visit www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org
 
2.  Connie
 Stalking on campus is very prevalent. 18-24 year olds experience the greataest rates of stalking. 1 in 13 college women experience stalking.
 
 
Is a victim's confidentiality more at risk in a campus setting?
 
1.  Connie
 That may depend on the size of the campus. College students are creatures of habit, so stalkers can find their target easily. Once the stalking has been reported and the victim decides to change some of her/his routine, others may notice. As far as confidentiality in the administration, stalking on campus should be just as high as in the community. Students may find that if they confide in a faculty member, now because of Campus SaVE, that faculty member must now include the report in the yearly Clery Act report.... but this does not include names or IDing info... just demographics of location, female/male, date, incident
 
 
What is the process to verify that computers and/or cell phones have not been compromised as part of the stalking? What options exist for someone who cannot afford to purchase a new computer or phone?
 
1.  Julie
 Regarding options for victims who cannot afford to replace phones and computers: In Illinois there is a Crime Victim Compensation program which will cover various crime-related costs to victims. It specifies that it will cover replacement costs for items taken as evidence and for items damaged or destroyed by the crime. Could this include hacked phones/computers?
 
2.  Rebecca Dreke
 It can be very difficult to determine if phones & computers have been used in a stalking incident. An offender might install spyware on a device that would allow them complete access to someone's phone/computer. In other cases, the offender might have the password and be able to "break in" to someone's device and learn a lot about them. If a victim believes their device has been compromised in any way, it would be important for them to use a safer device that the offender has never had access to. I agree this can be cost prohibitive. For victims of domestic violence & stalking, there are organizations like HopeLine from Verizon that donates cell phones to victims.
 
3.  Connie
 Definitely, it would be wise for the police department (if any) responding and investigating the case to use their resources to check out individual computers and phones in any stalking case.
 
 
Similar to Sabrina's question, I know that some victims have had a difficult time with law enforcement taking their claims seriously. How do we better partner with law enforcement to help them understand the seriousness of the issue. And what recourse do these victims have?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 In our experience training law enforcement departments all over the country, we've learned that more training is needed. In addition, forums where law enforcement and advocacy services can come together and discuss the challenges addressing this crime can be quite beneficial. Many departments want to better serve victims but might need updated information about the crime and real tools they can use to help them better investigate. We would be happy to assist you in identifying more training opportunities in your area and can assist even in bringing a training to your campus. Please email us at src@ncvc.org
 
2.  Connie
 Invite LE to trainings provided; ask them to help facilitate trainings! Encourage victims to make reports for every incidence related to their stalker. Every incidence is a separate stalking incident and documentations is essential to be taken seriously. Ask the victim to maintain a log of every little thing that occurs... who, what, when, where, and were there any witnhesses. A victim's own log can be entered as evidence.... so keeping the issue in front of the eyes of the LE is crucial.
 
 
Have you found, or do you think, that colleges & universities are addressing stalking and the needs of victims through their policies? And are there gaps between the written policies and the implementation of them?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 From the work we have done with many campuses across the United States, we think there has been tremendous change and improvement in the provision of services to stalking victims on campus. Many schools have written policies to address this crime that include well articulated rights of victims as well as the disciplinary process for offenders. With any policy, the implementation and practice is key. We have seen that training and a well-coordinated response by all departments is necessary. Thus campus law enforcement, judicial affairs, student residence life, etc. all need to have the same training and speak a common language to fully assist a student who is being stalked. Please see the Campus Model Stalking Policy on our website for more info.
 
2.  Connie
 Unfortunately, not enough colleges and universities are writing specific policies for stalking. Often stalking is included in harassment policies but it really deserves a separate policy due to its frequency on campuses.
 
 
As a follow-up to Rebecca's question, how can a small, local advocacy group, how do we approach the university in our area about adopting a stalking policy?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 Lisa - please be sure to see this publication for ideas. We'd also be more than happy to discuss further so give us a call too! http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/ncvc_campusstalking_7.pdf?sfvrsn=2
 
2.  Connie
 Being educated about the stats yourself and finding model policies for a university may make it easier to make an impact with the school. Helping the administrators understand the prevalency of stalking and the fact that every state has a law against it may also help. Become familiar with your state law.
 
 
How can student groups help in the effort to raise awareness about stalking and dating violence on campus?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 I think this is a fabulous question and I am a huge supporter of student and survivor led movements on campus. Having an in-service or training event of some sort, created by students with perhaps survivor speakers could have a huge impact. Creating a forum for campus stakeholders to learn more about the nature of the crime (how it's often unrecognized, treated as a joke, the role of technology and how easy tech makes it to stalk people) is very important. January is National Stalking Awareness Month and hosting an event in January or close to, can be a great idea. We have lots of examples of activities on our website: stalkingawarenessmonth.org
 
2.  Connie
 Terrific question. Often student groups can make more of an impression on administrators because they know people on their campus that have actually been stalked. Putting together a document of examples of students (even if anonymous) that gives the framework for the stalking incidents, the dates, the frequency, the attempts made to stop said stalking, and the suggestions you may have to help victims of stalking.... that would be impressive!
 
 
How can we as advocates work with administrators at smaller community colleges to recognize that stalking can be a problem on their campus as well?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 That's a great question! I think taking part in training together, discussing how to create a stalking policy and general campus education on the issue can be key. We know that stalking is more prevalent on college campuses than in the general population. Holding a meeting or in-service to get everyone talking about the issue could be the first step. For ideas and to learn more about what other campuses have done, please email or visit the SRC's webiste: www.victimsofcrime.org/SRC
 
2.  Connie
 I think the best resource is statistics and recognition that the new VAWA - Campus SaVE Act requires policies and response for stalking on campus... no matter what the size of the campus.
 
 
How resposive are the Campus police and University Administration to reports of stalking?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 I would agree it really depends on the campus and their experiences dealing with this crime. If the school has an (anti) stalking policy in place, this can be very helpful and instructive in listing out the role each player has in these cases.
 
2.  Connie
 This definitely depends on the specific case. Police understand stalking in general but may need to be educated about how it presents itself to college students and how it impacts the academic performance of the target on a campus. That is a great way to reach university administrators as well. Retention is key and stalking often forces its victim to leave the campus in order to feel safer.
 
 
What have you found to be effective in educating students, faculty and staff about stalking: recognizing it, understanding the gravity of the behavior and knowing what support is available? Do you find that the topic of stalking is still too often trivialized? How do you combat this?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 Training, education, and more training! In our experience from training thousands of practioners from law enforcement, campus officials, victim services and others in the criminal justice field, training is crucial. Educating about the prevalence of the crime, the nature of the crime (how it is often unrecognized and greatly under-reported), and the dynamics of the crime are very important. Stalking is still too often trivialized and portrayed as a joke or something we don't need to take as seriously as other forms of violence. However, recognizing the intersections with stalking and IPV & sexual assault as well as the grave impact of stalking on victims is important. We have many training examples and materials on our website so please check out our resources. stalkingawarenessmonth.org
 
2.  Connie
 Bringing in an expert (perhaps panel) on stalking helps reinforce to faculty, staff and administrators that stalking is real and and is being addressed across the nation. Often if a person who has been stalked and who was helped either by an advocate or the police brings the issue home to those who are not familiar. Mention the famous cases in the news that began the need for stalking laws and policies... and the fact that some psychologists specialize in assisting traumatized stalking victims, whether they are famous stars or regular people/students.
 
 
Who are the majority of the stalking perpetrators? Are they people they meet on campus or acquaintances that may not even go to that school?
 
1.  Connie
 Stalking perpetrators on campus are very often acquaintances, or former dating partners. Sometimes the acquaintance is very minor... in a class together, see each other in the student union, leave their respective classes at the same time... and the stalking becomes obsessed with his target, wanting to see more and more of the person.. and finds ways to be 'coincidentally' close by often.
 
 
Under our student code of conduct, we identify both "stalking" and "gender-based stalking" as separate violations. Is there a difference? What would be needed to show that the stalking was indeed "gender-based"?
 
1.  Connie
 This is a great question. Probably the reason these issues have been addressed separately is to comply with the federal Campus SaVE Act and Title IX together, which some campuses seem to be doing. Title IX, of course, deals with gender-based harassment (some stalking is this), but other stalking is not gender-based.... it is simply an obsession... so all bases are covered with two policies. I don't really think the gender-based policy is needed, since a general stalking policy would cover all cases.
 
 
Are there regular trainings or webinars that are conducted on this topic?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 Yes! We regularly conduct in-person trainings as well as hosting webinars on this topic. Please visit our website for more info: www.victimsofcrime.org/SRC
 
 
What are some tips about online and personal safety for new students that might help prevent incidents of stalking?
 
1.  Rebecca Dreke
 We can certainly point to some online safety strategies for everyone. But it is important to remember that no victim is responsible for or at fault of being stalked - that blame is on the stalking offender. We partner with a terrific organization that has published some online safety tips. Please see: http://nnedv.org/downloads/SafetyNet/OVW/NNEDV_OnlinePrivacyandSafetyTips.pdf
 
2.  Connie
 Some obvious ones... don't share passwords, change passwords regularly, change your routine - in other words, don't always walk the same routes, go to the same diner at the same time, feel the need to make small-talk with passersby, recognize that it might happen!
 
 
Are there any laws or civil liabilities that require college campus administrators to aid in enforcement of Stalking No Contact Orders, such as by ensuring that the victim and perpetrator are not enrolled in the same classes?
 
1.  Lisa Alley
 There should be more enforcment on laws to protect stalking victims. Administrators can be held accountable if they are not providing safety or security for students. You may also go to court and petition for their dismissal. (Neglect of Duty)
 
2.  Connie
 Yes, both the Campus SaVE and the Clery Act have sections that relate to protective orders being enforced on campus and about changing sections of classes for victims/perps if at all possible...these are both safety considerations. No contact orders written by school admin are not so easy to enforces, except by bringing forth a complaint to the DOS and seeking a conduct hearing for the issue.
 
 
What should health center staff, guidance counselors, registrar staff, etc. (those that are often in contact with students) be aware of about stalking when interacting with students? Should we be looking for actions, moods, etc to help identify possible victims of stalking?
 
1.  Lisa Alley
 Harassment in educational institutions is definitely a growing concern, I am sure that it is every parents expectation that they are sending their child to a place that is secure and safe. I have reported students who pulled out weapons while in class sessions.
 
2.  Lori
 In addition to Connie's response, if you have someone seeking information under the guise of an emergency, it is a good idea to refer them to your Campus Safety/Campus Police department.
 
3.  Rebecca Dreke
 Thank you for this thoughtful question. Often times when a victim of stalking reports the stalking to an outside person or person in a position of authority, it is because they have been unable to control and stop the behavior. They might feel they are in real danger and like they have run out of options. So safety planning and discussing what sorts of safety measures are available to them is crucial. Having open discussions about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors could be one way to get a student to open up about what is happening.
 
4.  Connie
 Be absolutely sure not to give out PIO\I (Personally Identifying Information)to anyone seeking it. There have been times that an ex comes to a Registrar saying he 'needs' to speak with his wife... it seems like an emergency and if not knowledgeable, could easily be handed out to the stalker himself. As far as noticing stalking victim traits, any interpersonal violence issue (ST, SA, DV) have similaar trauma response.. so the easiest and best method to intervene is to say something like: "I notice you seem to be quieter than usual, or I notice that you have not been in class... is there anything going on that you want to share with me." Etc.
 
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