National Stalking Awareness Month observed in January

Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds is asking the community to join in January’s observance of National Stalking Awareness Month.

Edmonds said the observance is a time to focus on a crime which affects 3.4 million victims each year.

This year’s theme, “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.”, challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, “yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact,” Edmonds said.

In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking “is one of the significant risk factors for homicide in abusive relationships,” the state’s attorney said.

Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population.

“Many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization,” Edmonds stated.

Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute.

“Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime, but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear,” Edmonds said.

He explained that stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts or visits.

One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices or hidden cameras to track the victim’s daily activities.

“Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes,” Edmonds said.

Communities which understand and recognize stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime, he noted.

Edmonds said his office encourages community members to report incidents of stalking while also helping to promote awareness and public education about stalking during the national observance.

For more information about the issue, contact the state’s attorney’s office in Jonesboro, phone 833-7216.

Information also is available on the Internet at <a href="http://www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org">www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org</a> and <a href="http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov">www.ovw.usdoj.gov</a>.


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