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Stalking and Cyberstalking

Stalking, cyber stalking and harassment are criminal offenses under Maryland state law (MD Criminal Law Code 3-802; 3-803; HB 593; Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 27, 121B). Stalking, cyber stalking and harassment are prohibited at Hood College.

Stalking

Stalking is the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassment of another person with the intent to annoy, alarm or frighten. Stalking often occurs after a woman or man has broken up with a partner, or if one person wants a romantic relationship and the other does not.
Stalking can occur for other reasons as well, and the stalker may or may not be known by the victim. Stalking is taken seriously by the College and is always viewed as potentially dangerous.

Stalking behavior examples:

  • Repeated, unwanted phone calls, mail or email of a harassing or disturbing nature;
  • Threats prompting fear for one's life or safety;
  • Threats prompting concern for the safety of one's family, friends, roommates or others; and
  • Behavior such as unwanted following or encounters that cause apprehension.

How to handle stalking behaviors:

  • Immediately notify campus security, your RA and/or friends about your concerns. Don't hesitate.
  • Notify your appropriate campus administrator.
  • Walk with friends and use campus security escort services.
  • Document phone calls, keep letters and save email communications as evidence of harassment.

To assist in tracing phone calls, keep a record:

  • Date and time of calls?
  • How often, number of calls?
  • Did you recognize the voice?
  • Male or female voice?
  • Background noises or sounds?
  • What did the caller say?
  • Campus security, the telephone company or "Caller ID" can assist in tracing calls. Do not attempt to record phone calls. It is a violation of Maryland law to record a conversation without the permission of all parties in the conversation.

If you have any reason to think that you may be in any physical danger, immediately call campus security (ext. 3111) or local police (911).

Cyber stalking and Safety

The increased popularity of the Internet and cell phones with enhanced features such as photo and video has created new means of communicating.
Email, list-serves, chat rooms, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and the like are leading to on-line and off-line relationships. Cyber stalking is a new phenomenon that compromises personal safety. In Maryland, cyber stalking is a criminal offense.

Guidelines to assist in safe online communication:

  • Anonymity is best. If someone doesn't know who or where you are, you are at least physically safe. Don't be tricked into revealing your name, location, phone number or any other identifying information about yourself.
  • Better safe than sorry. If you decide you would like to meet an online contact in person, bring a group of friends with you and meet during the day in a public place. Get references from the person, including work contacts, friends and family. The worst thing you can do is keep your online interaction a secret. Keeping it out in the open means other people will be able to look out for you.
  • Trust your instincts. If you ever get an uncomfortable feeling online, break off contact.
  • Do not delete. If you receive an isolated, unwanted online advance or message that is neither threatening nor hateful, you may choose to ignore it. If, however, you receive any threatening or hateful message or repeated nonthreatening ones, notify Campus Safety and/or appropriate campus administrators promptly. Senders who are a serious threat are usually persistent and do not easily give up. Do not delete any upsetting message you receive. Saved messages may be of value in tracing and prosecuting an online attacker.

Ways in which Hood College can assist if you have been stalked or harassed:

Each case is different and requires a response tailored to its specific facts. Some steps that have proved useful in prior cases include:

  • Disciplinary action against the person engaging in harassing or stalking behavior;
  • Banning the individual engaging in harassing or stalking behavior from campus;
  • Assisting the person experiencing harassment or stalking with writing letters or writing letters on his/her behalf to invoke protection of the harassment statutes;
  • Assisting the person experiencing harassment or stalking with contacting law enforcement authorities; and
  • Identifying, evaluating and preventing individuals from engaging in harassing behaviors.