January commemorated as Stalking Awareness Month
Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds is alerting the public that January is National Stalking Awareness Month – a time to focus on a crime that affects 3.4 million victims a year.
A public education and awareness event is planned in the community room at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
The awareness event is set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10.
Edmonds is encouraging the public to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.
Those who are expected to be a part of the event include Edmonds; Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel; and Cathy McClanahan, who is the executive director of the Women’s Center.
Edmonds noted that 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.
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.
Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate and prosecute, Edmonds stated.
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.
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.
Communities that understand and recognize stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime.
The Union County state’s attorney’s office encourages community members to report incidents of stalking and to promote awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance.
For more information, or to report an incident, contact the state’s attorney’s office in Jonesboro at 618-833-7216.