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National Stalking Awareness Month: President addresses problem

A criminal behavior that largely flew under the radar in bygone decades has over the past several years been placed under a prominent national spotlight.

That behavior is stalking, which is now widely perceived as a significant problem across the country, including in Florida. Stalking comprises a multitude of actions engaged in by a perpetrator that threaten or otherwise harass a victim. They include the incessant following of a person throughout the day, the sending of unsolicited messages via letter or email, unwanted phone calls and so-called cyberstalking through harassing communications posted on Internet social media sites. Additionally, many victims are surreptitiously monitored by hidden cameras and bugging devices.

Ominously, and as noted by President Obama recently in a recently issued proclamation denoting January as National Stalking Awareness Month, this “serious crime” frequently escalates into physical harm against victims.

Those victims -- usually women, but men and children as well -- are stalked by both known persons (sometimes spouses or ex-spouses subjected to a restraining order) or complete strangers. As noted in the president’s proclamation, stalking behavior that is left unchecked often “tends to escalate over time,” putting victims at ever-greater risk of harm.

The statistics relevant to stalking are indeed sobering, if not flatly chilling. Reportedly, nearly 17 percent of American women are targeted by stalking behavior at some point in their lives.

President Obama’s proclamation points to enhanced protections against stalking that were recently added to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. The president states that progressive inroads against stalking will be realized through efforts undertaken by “one person, one family, [and] one case at a time.”

Source: Newsroom America, "Presidential Proclamation -- National Stalking Awareness Month, 2014," President of the United States Barack Obama, Dec. 31, 2013

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