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Voices From the Field: Stalking

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 266 Dated: June 2010 Pages: 14-15
Date Published
May 2010
2 pages
Publication Series
This article summarizes findings from various reliable sources regarding the prevalence and characteristics of stalking cases, characteristics of stalkers and their victims, why stalking may not be viewed as seriously as other crimes, the influence of social norms, and next steps for addressing stalking.
Stalkers victimize 3.4 million people each year in the United States. Both males and females can be victims of stalking, but females are nearly three times as likely to be stalking victims as males. Stalking stemming from domestic violence is the most common type of stalking and the most dangerous. According to one study, 76 percent of women who were murdered by their current or former intimate partners were stalked by their killers within 12 months of the murders. Despite findings that show the link between stalking and violent crime, stalking is often undetected and misunderstood, and its seriousness is often minimized. This is often due to victims' failure to identify unwanted or harassing contacts as stalking. Under the laws of all 50 States, however, when such seemingly benign behaviors become a pattern, this constitutes a stalking crime. Still, only within the past two decades has the criminal justice system held stalkers accountable under the recognition that stalking victims are in great danger of violence from the stalker. Prevalent social norms also tend to minimize stalking behaviors. Such behaviors may be viewed in entertainment media as funny and/or innocent romantic attentiveness that is part of aggressive courting efforts. Much remains to be done in educating the public and the justice system about the features and potential dangers of stalking behaviors, which should translate into actions designed to keep victims safer and hold stalkers accountable. 8 notes

Date Published: May 1, 2010