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This chapter is from the book

Sticks and Stones

Cyber stalking is a unique form of cyber crime because it has the potential to move from a web address to a real address—from the virtual to the actual. Our experience has proven that, too often, cyber stalking is not taken seriously by authorities because it may not involve physical contact or because the victim and stalker do not live in close proximity to each other. This needs to change.

When a victim in New Hampshire complains of being cyber stalked by someone from California, her complaint needs to be taken just as seriously as if the offender lived in the same town and posed a physical threat. It is not acceptable to tell a victim to "turn off your computer" or "change your email address" if she needs that email address for professional purposes.

Even if the cyber stalking never crosses over to a physical threat (and we sincerely hope it doesn't), it is still as frightening, real, and distressing as in-person threats. Words will hurt you—being terrified has both psychological and physical manifestations.

The retail giant Wal-Mart was recently taken to task for selling t-shirts that read, "Some call it Stalking. I call it Love" (see a similar t-shirt in Figure 1.6). Women's groups and victim advocacy groups across the country were outraged. Wal-Mart quickly pulled the t-shirts off their shelves and stated, "It is not our desire to encourage or make light of such a serious issue through the sale of any products we carry."

Figure 1.6

(© CafePress.com)

Figure 1.6 A stalking t-shirt similar to the one once carried at Wal-Mart

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