United States: Cyberstalking a Growing Issue for the Safety of Women
Saturday, May 21, 2011 11:50 PM

Cyberstalking has increasingly become a problem for women as new technologies make their privacy easier to violate. Cyberstalking is known as “threatening behavior or unwanted advances that use computer communications.” According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 1-in-4 of the 3.4 million victims of stalking each year are victims of cyberstalking. Sixty percent of cyberstalking victims are women and eighty percent of all stalking targets are women.

Cyberstalking is disturbing not only because of its threatening nature online, but because many of the harassers carry out their cyber threats in person. In addition, this form of stalking can be more aggressive because "people lose track of the normal boundaries they would have in face-to-face relationships," says Montana Miller, a professor of popular culture at Ohio's Bowling Green State University. This is often referred to as the "disinhibition effect," and social media and other techonologies are increasly the reach and frequency of such behavior. 

Victims of cyberstalking are urged to alert police immediately as well as Internet service providers. All 50 states have laws that work to lessen the threat of cyberstalking, and Congress is working on a bill called the STALKERS Act that would include cyberstalking in the definition of stalking. Despite these efforts, cyberstalking can be hard to stop as the social networking sites make it easier for cyberstalkers to target their victims and make it more difficult for users to ensure their privacy. 

Compiled from: Cyberstalking Turns Web Technologies Into Weapons, WeNews(2 May 2011).