The Intersection of Stalking, Dating Violence, Assault and the Misuse of Technology

Intimate partner violence expert Rebecca Dreke discusses her upcoming Campus Safety Conference presentations on how to identify and address stalking and dating violence on campus.

Every minute in the United States, 24 people become victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, and a significant portion of these individuals attends or is employed by a college or K-12 district. The least discussed or understood form of intimate partner violence is stalking, and many campus administrators don’t know how to properly address or even identify this issue when it is happening in their organizations.

RELATED: How to Address Relationship Violence with K-12 and College Students

Help is available, however, from the Stalking Resource Center (SRC) at the National Center for Victims of Crime. The SRC is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to provide technical assistance and training to professionals working to end stalking in their communities.

At the Campus Safety Conference East in Washington, D.C., July 25-26 and Campus Safety Conference West in Long Beach, Calif.,  August 9-10, SRC Director of Training and Technical Assistance Rebecca Dreke will be presenting Assessing the Risk: The Intersection of Stalking, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Technology Misuse on College Campuses.

In this interview with Campus Safety, Dreke provides a preview of her Campus Safety Conference presentations. She discusses the importance of assessing risks like stalking and date rape, tells how well schools are managing the issue and reveals what they could be doing better in this area.

Campus Safety: Why is this an important topic for colleges today?

Dreke: Because research has shown that the rates of stalking on college and university campuses are higher than in the general population. Yet, many college and university professionals struggle with how to address this all-too-prevalent crime on their campuses. There’s a lot of interest in this area right now because it’s such a misunderstood topic.

Campus Safety:  What do institutions need to be doing better in this area?

Dreke:  What we find is that practitioners still need a lot of factual information, resources and ideas for both intervention and prevention. Unfortunately, and despite their best efforts, too often administrators, campus security and/or campus law enforcement downplay – or don’t take seriously enough – the threats that are posed by people who are engaging in stalking behaviors.

Campus Safety:  What’s the danger in ignoring these signs and behaviors?

Dreke: When we ignore those problems and behaviors, it gives offending students a sort of “permission” to continue doing them. They think they’re going to be able to get away with it because the adults who are supposed manage the issues – and follow the policies and laws of the school and the state-aren’t enforcing them. It sort of gives them license to keep engaging in those behaviors. Then, the ripple effect for victimized students is that they feel like they have no recourse.

Campus Safety:  What is a more effective approach to this problem?

Dreke:  Well, we already know that students engage in a lot of activity online and that they’re using a lot of technology. In fact, that’s where a big chunk of their relationships are being played out (online). A good approach is to look at the various technologies and how they’re being used – both as part of the students’ social and romantic lives – and then look at what occurs if and when those technologies are used against them. Here at the SRC, we also stress the importance of evaluating or assessing (for risk) in those situations and then examining what all of this means for the safety of everyone on campus, including faculty and staff.

Campus Safety: What else can attendees expect from your conference session?

Dreke:  This is a session that’s geared to the generalist, so even if the attendee has had many years of experience in investigating and working these types of cases, he or she will probably still learn something new. Or, if attendees have no experience with stalking, cyber-bullying or bullying, they’ll walk away from the session with tools and resources that will help them do their jobs better.

The third annual Campus Safety Conferences are education and training events for anyone who has a stake in ensuring the public safety and security of our nation’s schools, universities, and colleges. Taking place in Washington, D.C. July 25-26 and Long Beach, Calif., Aug. 9-10, the conferences provide full-day training workshops, a college campus police chief and a K-12 safety panel, dozens of conference sessions, and more than 35 companies showcasing their products, services, and technologies.

To register for the Campus Safety Conferences, visit Rebecca Dreke will be speaking at CSC East, Higher Ed Track, on July 26 and CSC West, Higher Ed Track, on Aug. 10.

Photo: Thinkstock

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