Violence-prevention program promotes stalking awareness

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By Margaret McKinney
Highlands University

The New Mexico Highlands University Campus Violence Prevention Program is marking national Stalking Awareness Month in January by reaching out to students.

The national theme is “Stalking: Know it. Name it. Stop It.” The violence prevention program has used its Facebook page, No Violence HU, for numerous posts to raise awareness and share resources for stalking. Posters are also on display around campus.

“During the annual observance, the Campus Violence Prevention Program promotes awareness and public education about stalking,” said Kimberly Valdez, the program’s director. “Stalking is often overlooked and not fully understood. If more people are provided with information, we have a greater chance of protecting victims and preventing tragedies.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stalking is a crime in all 50 states and affects approximately 6.6 million people per year in the U.S. Females are nearly three times more likely than males to be stalked. College students are more likely to be stalked than the general population.

The CDCP describes the many forms stalking may take, including assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, and animal abuse as well as unwanted phone calls, visits, gifts, texts, e-mails and cards.

One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology – like computers, global positioning system devices or hidden cameras – to track the victim’s daily activities.

“By and large, New Mexico Highlands University is a very safe campus,” said Fidel Trujillo, dean of students. “One reason is because of the proactive work our Campus Violence Prevention Program does in terms of awareness, activities, and training provided to the campus community on important issues such as stalking and domestic violence.”

Trujillo added that the board of regents recently took formal action and adopted a policy that addresses these issues, and lists resources and services available at Highlands.

Protocols are also in place to fully investigate incident reports and to take appropriate action based on the student handbook and other university regulations.

The Campus Violence Prevention Program can be reached at 454-3445 or preventviolence@nmhu.edu  More stalking prevention resources are also online at www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org  and through the U.S. Department of Justice at www.ovw.usdoj.gov