As we begin the New Year, we look forward to our continued mission to bring lessons of personal safety to all of Minnesota's children.
Our programs for children, teachers, parents and law enforcement stress the concept of it being OK to say "no" to unwanted contact, and the right to feel safe in your home, school, neighborhood and other places that are important to you and your well-being.
Stalking is a very important issue that touches on this concept. A stalker will often use a person's connection to a place, or need to be somewhere as a tool to maintain unwanted contact, as well as to force interactions that are intrusive, unwanted, and even dangerous.
Stalking is not only frightening, it is a kind of theft. The stalker steals the victim's "zone of safety", in a way.
While the victim might or might not come to any physical harm, and the stalker might in fact not intend any harm, there is still harm done. Everyone has a right to feel safe, and to say "no" to unwanted contact.
In our education programs, we teach this concept of feeling free to say "no", and the need to respect "no" from others from the very earliest ages that our programs reach.
Anti-stalking laws are important, proper enforcement is important, and personal safety techniques are important skills to have, but the place where we can have the most impact is to teach our children to respect boundaries from a very young age, to insist that their own boundaries be respected, and to back up others when they see boundaries being asserted and violated.
For more information about Stalking in the U.S., please read this report from the Department of Justice and the CDC.