Measures against Stalking: Devise Ways to Help Perpetrators Find Medical Treatment

There is no end to the harm done by relentless stalkers. Some cases lead to even more serious incidents, including murder. In addition to strengthening enforcement against stalkers, treatment should be promoted to help perpetrators become less obsessed with their victims.

Based on the Anti-Stalking Law, police nationwide issued orders to perpetrators to immediately stop stalking or lying in wait for their victims in a record-high 1,963 cases last year.

The law was enacted in 2000 in response to the murder of a female university student in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture. A 2017 amendment to the law made it possible to issue such orders in emergency situations even without prior warning.

However, there are cases in which perpetrators do not stop even after a ban order is issued. Last year, a man stabbed his former girlfriend to death with a knife in front of JR Hakata Station two months after he received a ban order.

It is essential to regularly check on the behavior and psychological state of perpetrators, among other factors, rather than simply issuing an order and taking no further steps.

Since last month, the police have begun to check with all perpetrators who received ban orders about their current status through phone calls and interviews. If the police find that the perpetrators are still strongly attached to the victims, they contact the victims to provide a warning.

Also, the police said they will actively encourage perpetrators to consult psychiatrists and counselors. This is because medical measures are believed to be effective in weakening perpetrators’ abnormal obsession and desire for control.

It is hoped that the police will strive to make perpetrators understand the importance of treatment when dealing with them. It would be advisable to call counselors to police stations to meet with the perpetrators there.

It would also be effective if lawyers for both victims and stalkers get the perpetrators to promise to see a doctor as part of negotiations to resolve the stalking problem.

If the perpetrators do not see a doctor of their own accord, it will be necessary to contact the families of the perpetrators and ask for cooperation.

In recent years, it has become noticeable that perpetrators send the victims large numbers of messages on social media or track their whereabouts by concealing GPS devices on their belongings without consent.

As the development of information devices has made the tactics of perpetrators more sophisticated and diverse, there is a limit to what victims can do to protect themselves. Along with getting perpetrators into treatment, measures to prevent stalking must be considered.

Perpetrators unilaterally amplify their anger toward others when their feelings are not well conveyed. It is important for them to deepen their self-reflection by reading books and writing on a regular basis so as not to fall into such feelings. It is necessary to reaffirm the importance of emotional education at school and at home.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 18, 2024)