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Cyber-Stalking on the Rise

January 31, 2011

BISMARCK, N.D. - January is National Stalking Awareness Month, and the National Center to End Violent Crime is using the observance to point out the increasing role of technology by stalkers.

More than 3 million people age 18 and older are stalked each year in the United States, the center reports, and one in four report being cyber-stalked.

Stalkers use technology in a variety of ways to harass their victims, says Janelle Moos, executive director of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services, such as installing malware or spyware on a computer or enabling tracking on a cell phone without the victim knowing.

"We have actually seen much more prevalent use of technology to stalk their victims. Specifically, 10 percent of victims have reported being monitored by GPS and another 8 percent through use of video or digital cameras or listening devices."

A bill has passed the North Dakota state House and is before the Senate to make it easier for prosecutors to build a case against a stalker, Moos says.

"If an offender has multiple convictions in municipal court, that prosecutor can use that information to bump from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony."

If you are being stalked, Moos advises, do not confront your stalker directly. Instead, seek help from law enforcement or the various victim service agencies around the state that can help to devise a safety plan.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - ND