As text messaging has boomed in recent years, it has also given rise to so-called "textual harassment." Text messages antagonize recipients in a way that is not easily ignored: Most people are never far from their cell phones, and the gadgets tend to blink and chirp until unopened messages are acknowledged. Adding another sting, the victims are often charged by their cell phone companies for receiving the messages.
A study of stalking by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics released last month confirmed that stalking by texting has become a pervasive problem.
The report found 23 percent of stalking or harassment victims reported in 2006 that the stalker had used some form of cyberstalking, such as cell phone texting or e-mail, to harass them. It was the agency's first measure of the emerging practice, said Katrina Baum, one of the study's authors.
"Technology has become a quick and easy way for stalkers to monitor and harass their victims," the report said.
And unless calling plans include unlimited texting, recipients are charged an average of 20 cents for each message sent or received, wanted or not.