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Public Safety: Talking to Teens About Stalking and Cyberbullying

By Chief Assistant District Attorney Susan K. Treadaway 

Have you ever heard someone say, in jest, “Are you stalking me?” The term “stalking” has become part of our common speech, often used when we happen to see the same person multiple times in a short period, for example. Unfortunately, this may lead to the assumption that stalking is harmless or even fun. 

Likewise, the concept of bullies has been so ingrained in our culture that the word “bully” conjures up the image of a child physically attacking another during the school day. While that unfortunately still occurs, today’s technology provides cyberbullies with the means to harm victims essentially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Stalking, cyberbullying, and similar misconduct are serious crimes in Georgia. It is very important to talk to teens about these crimes, so they are forewarned. 


In Georgia, stalking occurs when someone follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person, without his/her consent in order to harass and intimidate.1 

The harassing and/or threatening tactics of stalking are always unwanted and can include: 
  • Following or watching the victim 
  • Using GPS technology to track the victim 
  • Using a hidden camera to spy on the victim 
  • Communicating, repeatedly, by phone, text, email, and/or social media 

When the offender is a former or current dating partner, the act of stalking may be part of a pattern of dating violence that might also include physical assault, sexual violence, and psychological aggression. 

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, about 30% of women and 15% of men have been stalked at some time in their lives. Of those stalking victims, 24% of females and 19% of males said they were first stalked as teens. 


Most prevalent on social media, cyberbullying typically manifests as anonymous, mean-spirited messages attacking a victim’s appearance, intelligence, race, or sexuality. Perpetrators use the internet in an intentional and repetitive way, in an effort to harm their victims. Cyberbullies may also make personal information public, destroying the privacy of their victims. 

Sextortion2 is a type of cyberbullying. This crime occurs when an individual coerces someone to provide images or video of a sexual nature. Transmitting these types of images, often called “revenge porn,” is also a crime.3 

Victims of cyberbullying and sextortion suffer emotionally, socially, behaviorally, and academically. When damaging content is posted online, victims suffer unimaginable harm since they are never able to escape their bullies. 

How You Can Help 

Awareness is key to tackling this problem and helping victims. Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t seem right, it is time to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your child. 

Talk to teens about healthy relationships. Remind them that controlling and violent behaviors are not acceptable. Teens experiencing dating violence should reach out to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult. They can also contact the Cherokee Family Violence Center. Call 911 in case of emergency. 

February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 

Examples of teen dating violence include: 
  • Physical Violence 
  • Sexual Violence 
  • Psychological Aggression 
  • Stalking 
  • Cyberbullying