Stalking may be defined as an array of behaviors which make one feel nervous, harassed or threatened. It occurs when someone regularly contacts another, follows that person, send him or her things, talks to him or her without consent, or threatens the individual. Generally, it is obsessive or unwanted attention by a group or single individual towards another individual. The behaviors of stalkers are usually related to intimidation and harassment and may include: knowing ones’ schedule; trailing an individual; sending one email, letters or pictures; repeated calls or text messages; contacting one or posting about him or her on social sites; damaging or stealing one’s property; or any other actions related to harassing, contacting, tracking or frightening the individual (Gedatus 6).
One can be stalked a person he or she knows, a current or past friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, or a total stranger. There are various techniques used by stalkers; some of the common methods include: Air stalking, where the target being tracked are on foot or in vehicles,, and are tracked using helicopters; brighting, which involves illuminating the targets with high beams of light as they walk on the streets at night; cell phone stalking, which involves using the target’s phone to track him or her; mobbing or crowding, which involves the use of civilian snitches whenever the target in in public; and directed conversation, involves conversing with a stranger about one’s personal life. Other techniques are: electronic harassment, entrapment, illegal surveillance, emotional sapping, illegal entry, mimicry, email and mail tampering, profiling and theft or vandalism (Gedatus 8).
Although it is perceived that stalking is dangerous, not all stalkers are dangerous. Some of the most dangerous and extreme stalkers are motivated by mental conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or delusional disorder. Others experience personality disorders which are identified through a prevalent abnormal array of behaviors related to mood, thinking, impulse control and personal relations. Precisely, these groups of stalkers have borderline, antisocial, narcissistic, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive or dependent personality disorder physiognomies. Other contributing factors include substance abuse or dependence. In this case, these stalkers have a limited potential of being dangerous.
Stalking is a typical form of crime which is composed of a sequence of actions which when taken individually may constitute a legal behavior. However, when these actions are conducted jointly with the intention of instilling fear or injuring another person, they constitute an array of illegal behaviors. Stalking as a crime may affect anyone, irrespective of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, social status, personal relations or geographic location.
Various anti-stalking laws have been enacted across countries. In the U.S., the fight against stalking has been intensified with each state enacting criminal stalking and civil stalking laws. These laws define, stalking, giving its scope and the way to punish the crime of stalking. Secondly, the federal government has not been left adrift; under the United States Codes Service, federal stalking laws have been defined allowing the law enforcement agencies to combat stalking crimes within the national context. Lastly, some other autonomous institutions; such as the military, have also established their stalking laws. Last, though most important, stalking protection procedures have been outlined to guide individuals in avoiding instances where they are likely to get stalked (Purpura, 67).
Anti-stalking laws have been challenged greatly on the basis of its constitutionality. It has been argued that laws are extremely vague to the extent that they violate the due process of law. The determination of this issue is based on the nature of the anti-stalking laws, if the laws afford one’s right to freedom of expression given by the 1st amendment and the rights to due process guaranteed by the 5th amendment, then the laws are constitutional(Purpura 75).
Gedatus, Gustav M. Stalking. Mankato, Minn: LifeMatters, 2000. Print.
Purpura, Philip P. Criminal Justice: An Introduction. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996. Print.