An Interview with Stephanie Nilva – Cyber Stalking Among the Youth

Stephanie Nilva is an attorney and the Executive Director of Day One, an organization that partners with youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence through community education, supportive services, legal advocacy and leadership development. 

PureVPN: Do you think Cyber Stalking laws are mature enough to a cover majority of these cases? Do you think the legislation and the law enforcement agencies can keep up with the fast-paced Cyber Ecosystem and Advancements?

Given the rapid rate of technological advancement, legislation can barely keep up. Most laws take several months or even a year or two to pass, whereas we see technology evolving much more quickly. New tools that can be used to harass and stalk people online are emerging every few weeks.

Most existing laws that protect against abusive tactics were passed at a time when no one could conceive of the arsenal that would be available to threaten or harm someone through various forms of technology. Day One offers support to young people experiencing abuse online by advocating with law enforcement and the court system in areas that are still unfamiliar to authorities. Police struggle to respond to allegations of online threats, and courts are accustomed to issuing “stay-away” orders that would do little in an online context.

Day One also supports legislation that would offer accountability for abusive online behavior while also being mindful of the age-appropriate behaviors that young people engage in. It would be counterproductive to criminalize the conduct of a teen who shares an intimate photograph online that is later publicized by someone with harmful intent.

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