Stalking common on college campuses

Filed under: Just For Moms, Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

Since the Virginia Tech shootings, I have been quietly worrying myself into a panic. My daughter Christy attends college across town, but that fact alone isn't what is keeping me up nights. You see, all her life Christy has been in the habit of befriending the friendless. As a child, her heart would go out to the kid nobody else liked. The shy boy standing on the edge of the field instead of playing with the other kids. The girl with frizzy red hair and glasses who was ostracized just for looking so different. The sight of these children moved something in her and she felt compelled to draw them out and include them. I was proud of her for this.

However, as Christy grows older and continues to collect strays, I am worried about it. Bringing home odd little 7-year-old children is one thing. But this past Christmas, when she showed up for dinner with an strange 25-year-old boy who refused to make eye contact with me, I felt uneasy. I wanted to like this boy, but I couldn't get past the fact that he totally creeped me out. There was something off about him and it scared me that she was spending time with him.

Long story short, the boy is disturbed and Christy is now afraid of him. She's broken off all contact, but still sees him on campus and sometimes in places where he has no business being. He has given her a reason to be scared, and Christy has alerted campus security about her concerns.

An article in USA Today talks about how common stalking has become on college campuses. A national survey published in 2000 found that 13% of women in college say they have been stalked.

"Stalking is definitely a problem on college campuses," says Alison Kiss, program director for the non-profit group Security on Campus. "And it usually escalates, just like dating violence."

Christy's former friend hasn't done anything illegal. But that boy who murdered all those people at Virginia Tech was a known stalker, too. And that is what keeps me awake at night.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.