Loopholes In The Law Open Up Anyone To Be Accused Of Stalking

, , , , | Learning | November 11, 2018

(Over the past two years at my high school, thanks to some rumours, I have found myself with the reputation of a stalker. This has seen different groups of people at different points in time follow me around, steal my property, burn it, and continue to spread word of my supposed misdeeds. One morning, I am reading text messages on my mobile phone and standing out in a courtyard. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a boy who is particularly short, looking quite angry. As I finish my messages and turn to leave, he and his group of friends approach me.)

Short Boy: *calling out from the other side of the courtyard* “Stop taking photos!”

Me: *knowing what to expect* “Pardon?”

Short Boy: “Why were you taking photos of me?”

Me: “I was not taking photos of you.”

Short Boy: “Yes, you were! I saw you!”

Me: “No, I wasn’t. I was messaging my friends.”

(The short boy looks to his own friends for backup. They start murmuring amongst themselves to provide a nice background ambiance.)

Short Boy: *with renewed vigor* “You were taking photos of me; I know it!”

(This goes back and forth for a while, with me asking why I would bother to take photos in the first place, and him and his friends interrupting with the same sentence. Eventually, he switches it up.)

Short Boy: “Show me your camera roll!”

Me: “No, it’s my phone, and it’s private information.”

Short Boy: “That settles it! You took the photos and you’re not letting me look!”

(I walk away from them, and they don’t follow but shout insults from a safe distance. Now, I need to talk to friends about this, because my dealings with the popular kids always end well for them, and I’d like to tell someone my side of the story. I have my phone to my ear and someone on the line when they walk through the doorway.)

Me: “Oh, there they are now.”

Short Boy: “He’s deleting the photos!”

Me: *on phone* “As you’ve just heard, they’re giving chase.”

(They realise that I’m actually on the phone and back off, giving me an opportunity to end the call and run away… right into another friend. We move into a corridor and I explain exactly what happened, and we agree to see the dean as soon as we can, which is different from our usual tactic of ignoring and trying to keep a moral high ground. The doors open and in walk several people. It turns out that this kid is a part of a big clique at school, the same clique that tried to call me out for “stalking” at the start of the year, and also the same clique that bullied my special needs brother on the bus home both this and last year. This could not get any worse.)

Girl: “There he is; look!”

(They look. I am holding my phone.)

Short Boy: “I saw you taking photos! You’re deleting them right now!”

Me: “I’m telling you, I have not taken any photos of you! You’re all vain p***ks who are so paranoid that–“

(My friend pulls my arm and together we walk away.)

Friend: *hurried* “Don’t bother with them. Come on.”

(They follow, obviously. I see that one of them, the ringleader of the previous accusers, is pointing his phone at me. It does, in fact, get worse; I hate having my face recorded.)

Boy With Phone: “Why’d you take photos of him, huh? That’s called a breach of privacy!”

(I’m fuming at their hypocrisy, but remain silent. My friend makes a daring move and yanks the phone right out of the kid’s hands. It is recording on a popular messaging app that deletes messages after they’re sent, so she stops it, but before she can delete it the phone is swiped back and we scamper away. The bell rings and two classes go by, and in my interval period I take it straight to the dean. I’m asked to identify who the students are, and relay the names of some people, but I cannot name the short boy. By lunchtime, they’ve figured out who he is by association and the dean reaches a decision.)

Dean: “I’m going to come up with what’s basically a contract that says that you can’t talk to him and he can’t talk to you. I’m doing this early on so that it doesn’t escalate.”

Me: “That sounds a lot better than what’s happened in the past. Thank you so much.”

(I left, and found the nine-strong group waiting at my corridor, having turfed my group out. We moved constantly and they followed until classes ended. By the following day’s lunchtime, the “contract” had been drafted and the short boy had confessed and signed it. There were next to no loopholes: Neither of us could go near each other, or send our friends after each other, or discuss each other; the contract would no longer be in effect at the end of the school year. I happily signed, and Short Boy and I stayed well away. Unfortunately, they’ve been exploiting as many loopholes as they can; while Short Boy is not allowed to send his friend over, there was nothing saying that his friends couldn’t do it of their own accord. There wasn’t anything saying that the friends couldn’t talk about me of their own volition, either, leading most of that sort of population to go into a frenzy whenever I so much as hold my mobile. One of the new outcomes of the two-year-long saga is that I now become really anxious when I hear a [Popular Phone] camera. On the flip side, school’s ending soon and hopefully, after the exams and school holidays, by next year people will have forgotten about this particular incident.)

 

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