JONESBORO — Union County officials are getting set to host a stalking awareness event to call attention to this crime and the fact that January is National Stalking Awareness Month.

This public education and awareness event will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, in the Community Room at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro,

Guests will learn more about stalking and how law enforcement is encouraging people to help combat it. Anticipated presenters are Scott Harvel, Union County Sheriff; Cathy McClanahan, executive director of the Women's Center in Carbondale; and Tyler Edmonds, Union County State's Attorney.

Stalking affects 3.4 million victims a year, Edmonds said in a news release.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact, the news release states.

In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims, and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for homicide in abusive relationships. Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear.

Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults; threats; vandalism; burglary; animal abuse; or unwanted cards, calls, gifts or visits.

One in four victims reports that the stalker tracks their daily activities, by using such technology such as computers, GPS devices and hidden cameras.

Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes, according to the news release. Communities that understand and recognize stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime.

The Union County State’s Attorney’s Office encourages community members to report incidents of stalking and promote awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance.

For more information, please contact the State’s Attorney’s Office at 618-833-7216.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com

618-351-5805

On Twitter: @scribeest

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Reporter

Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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