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by Katrina Russon
Just about everyone has a computer these days and almost everyone who has a computer has the Internet. But do people really think about their safety while surfing the net? We’ve all seen or heard about one of those horror stories about Internet stalkers but who actually thinks it can happen to them? I certainly didn’t, but I quickly learned my lesson.
When I first discovered the Internet I was in eighth grade and very naïve. I had heard stories about people being stalked over the computer but figured that it was just in The States and that nothing like that ever happens in Canada. So I started talking to people on ICQ, which at that time was very popular. I was on that computer every chance I got.
I quickly started talking to people on a regular basis and for some stupid reason actually gave them my phone number. I even went and met with a few people I had talked with online. Luckily the people I met at that time were harmless and actually were who they said they were.
Once grade nine rolled around I still talked on the Internet but was a lot more cautious. I never gave out anything other then my name and stopped meeting people I talked to online but you’d be surprised to know that a name is all a stalker needs! I started talking with a guy who went by the name of “typo” I think I met him on a random chat thing but after a couple of conversations I began to get a weird vibe about him. He started making comments about my family and activities I was involved in. I was really scared but was also scared to tell my parents so I kept this freak a secret for almost 3 months. He actually called me once during those three months but he had warned me that he was going to call so that when he did I told him he had a wrong number. That actually worked for a little while until he called back one morning when I was home sick from school. I wasn’t expecting the call since I hadn’t talked to him in awhile so when he asked if Katrina was there I said “ Speaking who’s this?” and he replied, “You’ll find out soon enough.” Well that’s when I lost it and finally told my parents. We called the police and they were so helpful.
It was a difficult case because I didn’t know anything about the man who was stalking me other than his screen name. After I had talked with the police I felt better but the threats got worse. The man found out where I was and would tell me he saw me and would describe what I was wearing. He had also called my house and drove by on several occasions. He described my house to me on the computer and would tell me about cars around it so I knew he was there. The threats were that he would ruin my family and that it was all going to come to an end soon and for a week he told me it would all be over on Friday. It ended up that Friday was the last day of school so my grade nine year I had to stay home and have the cops on call in case something happened.
The police were amazing and somehow found out who this man was. They also found out that I was not the only girl he was doing this to and there had been several others. This was the first case in NB so it was a breaking point in how people were charged with Internet harassment. The man who stalked me received 6 months in jail and 3 years probation. His probation is almost up which is kind of scary but I feel more safe now knowing that there have been laws developed against Internet harassment. I just think that people need to be a lot more cautious about who they talk to online. My best advice would be to not talk to people you don’t know that’s the only way to really be safe.