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Beyond the likes: Unmasking the rise of cyberstalking among college students

In the digital age, stalking has taken on a new form, haunting college campuses and leaving students vulnerable to unseen threats.

Stalking has evolved with social media and has dramatically increased among college students.

“We minimize stalking a lot. It’s in a lot of shows and memes, where is play off as being funny,” said Aimee Alberd, Title IX Investigator and Prevention Specialist. However, stalking is a serious issue. Adults between the ages of 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of stalking, according to The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Alberd defines stalking as an “overly alarming intense attraction to someone else.” With a background in mental health, she handles stalking, cyberstalking and sexual assault cases.

Aimee Alberd in her office.

If someone is sending you constant unwanted texts, or creating fake accounts to follow you after you’ve blocked them, they may be stalking you. To keep stalkers away, Alberd recommends not tagging your location on social media posts.

Kathy Hargis smiles as she works in her office.

“Social media is an interesting thing: it can be a blessing and a curse, sometimes both at once. It has definitely changed the culture for all of us,” said Kathy Hargis, Associate Vice President of Risk Management.

Alberd encourages students to use the resources available on campus, such as Title IX. She said that when students usually go to the office, they realize they’ve been dealing with past trauma and have been accumulating these. The office refers most of them to counseling.

Alberd tells students that when in doubt, it’s always better to ask others for help. “Sometimes when we struggle with pain and really hard things, we try to push them under the rug, but they only grow bigger when we don’t have the courage to talk about it,” Alberd said. “We don’t have to wait until the bridge is burning down for them to be able to come and talk about it.”

The Title IX office has partnered with Lipscomb Security to increase the use of the Ready App to report these situations. If you need help, send an email to titleix@lipscomb.edu or visit the office in the Crisman Administration Center.