Every year, 7.5 million people in the United States are stalked, with teenagers and young adults being the most at risk. Of those in a relationship, 48 percent had been stalked or harassed by their spouse, according to a recent survey. Moreover, a third of the kids surveyed said they’d been stalking a relationship.
If your adolescent is the victim of stalking, they are likely to be scared, alone, and vulnerable. In school, they may have difficulty focusing and falling asleep at night. As a parent, you must grasp the complexities of stalking and what you can do to protect your kid from being a victim of violence.
Why Do People Do This?
Stalking is a pattern of conduct that causes anxiety, fear, harassment, or a sense of danger in youth. Stalking can take many forms. The United States Justice Department defines stalking as an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or suffer serious emotional distress.
Stalking often occurs when someone regularly calls, follows, sends, or threatens your teen. Stalking your teen can happen to anyone, but in most cases, it occurs due to or after an abusive romantic relationship has ended.
It may also be accompanied by cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and other forms of digital dating abuse. Some examples of stalker behavior:
- Is aware of your teen’s daily routine?
- You and your teen go to the same places and events.
- Is lurking around your house and follows your teen.
- Watches over your teen from afar
- Repeatedly drives by your house or the workplace of your teen.
- without your consent, you take pictures of your adolescent
- Repeatedly calls or texts them.
- Sends them unwelcome emails or pictures.
- Letters or notes are left for them.
- Takes what is rightfully theirs
- Causes harm to their possessions.
- Threatens them or tries to influence their actions.
- Disseminates rumors and misinformation regarding the subject of the complaint.
- Using social media, they are being bullied online.
How to Keep Your Adolescent Safe
There are several ways to protect your child from being stalked, so it’s crucial to know your options. Although stalking is a serious crime, it can lead to physical violence and sexual assault. Keep an eye on your teen always, and don’t hesitate to call the authorities if they’re in danger. Your legal alternatives and safety precautions are outlined here.
Alternatives to the Judiciary and Legal Strategies
Stalkers should know that it’s illegal in every single one of the 50 states. As a result, if you suspect your adolescent is the victim of stalking, call 911 immediately. You can use the legal system to help safeguard your adolescent, as described below.
- Complain in writing. Don’t hesitate to call authorities if your teen has been the victim of stalking or if they have received threats. You should also inform them if your teen’s belongings have been damaged. Even if they can’t do much at first, you’ll have a complaint on file if the stalking continues or escalates.
- To ensure your safety, you should seek an injunction or restraining order. If your teenager has been stalked more than twice, state laws differ, but in most cases, a protective order can be obtained that requires the individual stalking your child to remain away from them. The police have the authority to prosecute them if they break the protective order they were issued. Remember that many stalkers breach these orders, so don’t take this order as a guarantee that your teen is protected. You still need to be aware of your surroundings and be aware of your surroundings.
- Assemble a record of your stalking activities. You should keep a running log of any time your kid is contacted or stalked. Remember the date, the time, and the place where it happened. The police and your lawyer, should you choose to engage one, will both benefit from having this material on hand.
- Keep track of any evidence that can point to a stalker. Save any notes, photos, letters, or emails that the individual stalking your teen may have left for you. Police can use all this evidence to bring charges against the person stalking your teen.
Principles of Security
You may take steps to protect your adolescent from being the target of stalking or other forms of unwanted attention. Stalking victims should be encouraged to go out in groups, taught how to be alert to their surroundings, talked about safe dating, and kept up-to-date on their locations in addition to these other safety measures.
- Make a list of all the places where you feel safe. Your adolescent must understand how to avoid being tracked so that they can seek refuge if necessary. Do not assume your guests will know where and how to get to the police station if they arrive by car. You should also emphasize the importance of dialing 911 immediately if they believe they are in danger.
- Use caution when using a mobile phone. Encourage your teen always to keep a fully charged cell phone in their pocket. You cannot call for aid if you don’t have your phone or the battery is dead, so if someone is following you, you need to be able to call for help.
- Encourage your adolescent to experiment with new routines. The person stalking your teen has to know where and when your teen goes for a walk or a run every day, and your teen needs to comprehend this.The person you hire will know if your teen has a favorite coffee shop or hangout. To avoid being tracked, you must work with your kid to make some lifestyle adjustments.
- Go out in groups and ask them to do so. Someone who is being pursued should avoid being alone, especially at night. As a result, whenever your kid plans to go out, they should do it in groups. You should always have a companion when you go shopping, perform errands, or go to the library. Being by yourself carries far too much risk.
- Make children aware of the dangers of surfing the Internet. Stalkers get entirely too much information about their whereabouts and activities when targets post about them on social media. Even if the stalker is no longer able to access their social media accounts, friends and acquaintances may be able to provide them with information.
- Work with your adolescent to come up with an action plan for keeping themselves safe. To keep your teen safe, you must have a safety plan. Moreover, putting together a strategy might provide them with a sense of control and empowerment.
- Remind your teen not to respond to any texts they receive. Responding to someone who is harassing, stalking, or cyberbullying your kid is never a good choice. Even telling the stalker to stop could be enough to keep them interested.
- Insist on being kept informed at all times. Even if your teen protests, it’s vital that they keep you updated on their location at all times. In the event that something bad happens, you’ll know exactly where they are and who they’re with, making it easier to track them down.
- Educate children on the importance of listening to their intuition. Even when their instinct is telling them otherwise, most teenagers choose to minimize or dismiss their feelings as exaggerated. Encourage your adolescent to rely on their judgment and intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably is. The first sign that your teen is in danger is usually this reaction.
- Have your adolescent ride along with you if you’re driving. In most cases, stalkers are waiting for a chance to get their target to themselves. Because the person following your adolescent has so few opportunities to interact with or damage your teen if you or someone else is regularly with them, including driving them to and from school, you put them at risk.
Security measures that can be implemented at school and work
It might be difficult to deal with a stalker if your teen attends or works at the same school or place of employment as the one following them. Talk to your kid about their safety options and how they intend to keep themselves safe. The following are some extra safety suggestions for dealing with these concerns.
- The stalker should be reported to school and workplace administrators. Although your teen’s experience of being stalked may be embarrassing, others must be aware of their distress. The police can be alerted if they suspect your teen is in danger if they are informed of your situation.
- Find out what may be done by contacting the school. A safety plan should be devised with the school authorities and resource officer if they have one of the stalkers is a student there. They may be able to alter your teen’s school schedule or locker at times. They can also assign teachers to keep an eye on your adolescent and make sure they have a student escort or companion with them in the halls. Involve them even if they don’t attend the same school as the individual who is following your child.
- Identify escape routes with your teen and encourage them to do so. If a dangerous scenario arises at school or job, your adolescent needs to know how to escape. Don’t let your children go alone through dimly lit stairways or corridors; teach them to escape routes if they do. Because the person stalking them could follow them into the school’s public bathrooms, you may also be able to request that your teen use the office bathroom instead.
- Consider assisting your adolescent in locating a new position. If the individual following your kid is employed by them, you may wish to assist them in finding a new job. When your teen is forced to work with someone threatening or scaring them, it is not good for their mental health.
- Encourage your teen to park in a crowded place. Your child should only park in well-lit and well-populated areas if they are driving to work. Then then, it could be a good idea to make sure there is someone who can walk them back to their vehicle.” You could even drive them and pick them up from work if that’s more convenient for you.
- Encourage your teen to form a group of friends and mentors. Help your kid find someone they can trust to walk with or work with at school and in the workplace. When dealing with someone who stalks them frequently, having another person around might provide a sense of security.
- Keep reminding your teen to secure their property. It doesn’t matter whether your teen has a car door or a front entrance to your home; both must be closed at all times for their own safety. Even if your adolescent believes that the person stalking them will never harm them, they should not take any chances.
Most kids try to ignore or refuse to talk about stalking when it happens to them. Stalkers are dangerous, but they can also have a negative impact on a person’s mental health.
Because of this, you may want to seek the advice of a mental health expert. Frequently, teenagers who are stalked suffer from symptoms of anxiety, despair, and even PTSD (PTSD). Your adolescent may benefit from the guidance of an experienced specialist. In addition, if you believe your adolescent is in danger, dial 911 immediately.