Suzy Lamplugh Trust report reveals that three quarters of respondents aged 16-24 had experienced repeated, unwanted behaviours consistent with stalking.


New study for National Stalking Awareness Week 2023 examines stalking behaviours amongst young people and how to better support young victims of stalking. 


London, UK – 24th April 2023: Suzy Lamplugh Trust has carried out an online pilot survey with young people aged 16-24 to explore their experiences and awareness of potential stalking behaviours. The research found that 77% of respondents to the survey had experienced at least one repeated harmful behaviour consistent with stalking, with this proportion rising to 87% among respondents who identified their gender as female, non-binary or other. Online behaviours were found to be particularly common with as many as 84% of respondents who had experienced behaviours consistent with stalking experiencing online behaviours in comparison with 70% who experienced in-person behaviours.

Shockingly, 42% of respondents had experienced someone repeatedly touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable as part of a continuum of behaviours consistent with stalking. This increased to 47% of respondents who identified their gender as female, non-binary or Other in comparison with 25% of respondents who identified as male. Moreover, 24% of respondents had experienced someone repeatedly threatening them online.

Our findings also highlight the damaging impact of repeated unwanted behaviours on young people, with 88% of respondents indicating that the behaviours consistent with stalking had some kind of harmful impact on their wellbeing. Alarmingly, 33% felt like the behaviour was their fault, while 15% indicated that sometimes they hurt themselves as a result. Despite the repeated and harmful nature of these behaviours, only 28% of respondents had considered that the behaviours they experienced might be stalking while fewer than half of respondents who spoke to someone felt that they were helpful.

This pilot study highlights the urgent need for improved understanding and awareness of stalking behaviours affecting young people, including wider prevalence, as well as types and patterns of behaviours. Our findings suggest that harmful and repetitive behaviours that constitute stalking are widespread among young people, and that better support is needed from schools, colleges, and Universities including reassurance to seek available help.


Based on the findings of this report, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is making a number of policy recommendations including: 

  1. The education sector (schools, colleges, universities) and youth services should receive specialist training to help recognise stalking and appropriately support young victims, including where behaviours are perpetrated online. This training should include recognition of common stalking behaviours among young people, as well as criminal justice system and other referral pathways for young victims to access support, including mental health support.  
  2. The education sector and youth services must clearly signpost avenues for young people to access support, such as the National Stalking Helpline, when experiencing repeated unwanted behaviours. In addition to improving young people’s awareness of stalking as part of the RSHE curriculum, schools and colleges must also implement awareness raising campaigns to help young people and professionals identify stalking behaviours and seek support where needed.  
  3. Tech companies must take preventative measures to identify and mitigate risks to young people before online harmful behaviour occurs. This would include requiring all platforms to establish which accounts belong to young people and offer higher levels of protection to them as well as better identifying and removing perpetrators. 


Suky Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says: “We know from our services and those across the National Stalking Consortium that young people are experiencing stalking. However, we are concerned that young people are currently falling through the gaps, and there is an urgent need to improve access to specialist support for young people experiencing potential stalking behaviours, particularly within schools and higher education institutions. We are particularly concerned that stalking among young people needs to be distinguished from harassment and other crimes in order to better identify the specific risks and provide appropriate support. It is imperative that young victims of stalking receive the help and support they need”.


Alex Davies-Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Tech, Gambling & Digital Economy, says: “I’m pleased to support the Suzy Lamplugh Trust with their online conference as part of Stalking Awareness week. Stalking ruins lives both on and offline. That is why Labour has repeatedly called on the Government to bring forward an Online Safety Bill that protects both children and adults online and prioritises online safety to prevent predators thriving online. Social media companies have also been allowed to prioritise profit over online safety”.


Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner, says: “My first act as Children's Commissioner was to launch The Big Ask, the largest ever survey of children and young people. One of the strongest themes to emergefrom the half a million children who responded was the desire to feel safe in public spaces. We all have a responsibility to take these issues seriously, so this week is an important opportunity to be aware of some of the dangers that exist. I want this country to be the safest, best place to grow up, which is why tech platforms must step up to protect young users, and schools and parents need the tools to respond to these concerns more confidently, helping to challenge harmful attitudes and behaviours”.



Authors of the report, representatives of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and supporters are available for media comment by arrangement, please contact:        

Suzy Lamplugh Trust: [email protected] / Tel: 07747611308   

Editor’s Notes       

What is stalking?        

Stalking is defined by Suzy Lamplugh Trust as a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim. The behaviours can be offline (such as visiting the victim’s home or place of work, following the victim or leaving gifts), or online (such as unwanted social media communication, calls, texts, emails, hacking and spyware).       

Read more at: What is stalking? | Suzy Lamplugh Trust


Suzy Lamplugh Trust: 

Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a national personal safety charity set up after the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh over 35 years ago. Our mission is to reduce the risk of violence, aggression and abuse through campaigning, education, and support. The Trust campaigns for better protections for victims of violence, aggression and stalking in policy and law. Suzy Lamplugh Trust runs the National Stalking Helpline and Advocacy Service, the only stalking helpline service for all victims across the UK, set up in 2010. The Helpline and Advocacy Service have supported over 65,000 victims of stalking to date.  


Survey Methodology: 

Between February and March 2023, Suzy Lamplugh Trust carried out an online pilot survey, collecting 181 responses. Our survey asked respondents whether they had experienced a range of repeated behaviours from someone more than once, then explored whether they had considered that the repetitive behaviours might be stalking.  This pilot study was designed to provide indicative results and suggest directions for future research. Due to the small sample size, it does not aim to provide a representative or definitive picture of young people’s experiences of repeated behaviours.