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IN PURSUIT OF FACTORS THAT PREDICT STALKING PERPETRATION AND
VICTIMIZATION AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS
KATHLEEN A. FOX
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Kathleen A. Fox
I owe many thanks to the members of this thesis committee: Dr. Angela R. Gover,
Dr. Nicole Leeper-Piquero, and Dr. Eve Brank for their time, effort, and willingness to
guide and direct this thesis. While each committee member offered insightful
contributions, I am especially grateful for the truly exceptional guidance and insight from
my mentor and thesis chair, Dr. Angela R. Gover. Dr. Gover has gone above and beyond
the call of duty as mentor by offering her friendship, providing me with opportunities,
and inspiring my continued interest in academia.
I am also indebted to my parents, Bob and Janet Fox, for their tremendous support
of my academic interests and to my sister, Laura Fox, for keeping me sane.
I would like to dedicate this document to Chris Talbot, who has been with me every
step of the way.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......... .................................................................................... iii
LIST OF TABLES ........ ........................... .... ....... ......... ........ ........ vi
ABSTRACT ........ .............. ............. .. ...... .......... .......... vii
1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................. ... .... 1
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ......................................................... .............. 5
History of the Problem .................. ............................ .. ...... ................. .5
L legislative R review ................. ........ .......................... ..... ........ .......... ...... .
D definition of Stalking ............................................. ....... .... .............. 11
Prevalence of Stalking .................. .......................... .. ..... .............. ... 16
V victim ization .............................................................................................. 16
Perpetration .............................................................................. 17
Prior Research Among College Samples................................ ..................... 20
Factors that Predict Stalking Victimization and Perpetration............................ 22
3 THEORETICAL FRAM EW ORK ................................... .......................... ... ........ 28
4 M E T H O D O L O G Y .......................................................................... .....................38
P ro c e d u re ................................................................ 3 8
R research Q uestions........... .................................................................. ........ .. ... 39
D dependent V ariables........... ............................................................ ... .. .... ..... .. 39
Independent V ariables .................................. ... .. ..... ............ 41
A nalytic P lan ........................................... ........................... 46
5 R E S U L T S .............................................................................4 8
O overall Sam ple D escription............................................... ............................. 48
D descriptive A analysis ......................... .... ........................ ........ .. ............. 50
Characteristics of Stalking Victims ................ .............................................. 50
Characteristics of Stalking Perpetrators ................................... ............... ..51
B ivariate R elationships......... .......................................................... ...............5 1
M ultivariate A naly sis................................................ .................... ............. 53
6 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS ............................................. ....................58
A POTENTIAL STALKING BEHAVIORS ...................................... ............... 71
B S U R V E Y ............................................................................................................... 7 2
L IST O F R EFE R E N C E S ............................................................................ ...............83
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................92
LIST OF TABLES
5-1 Descriptive Statistics of Variables (Full Sample; N=1,490)...................................49
5-2 Correlation M atrix (Full Sam ple; N =1,490) .................................... ..................... 52
5-3 Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Perpetration (Full Sample; N = 1,420) ....54
5-4 Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Full Sample; N = 1,365)..55
5-5 Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Females Only; N = 907)..56
5-6 Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Males Only; N = 458)......56
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
IN PURSUIT OF FACTORS THAT PREDICT STALKING PERPETRATION AND
VICTIMIZATION AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS
Kathleen A. Fox
Chair: Angela R. Gover
Major Department: Criminology, Law and Society
Stalking has only recently been labeled a crime although it has long been a cause
for social concern. Empirical research suggests that there are numerous adverse
consequences of stalking victimization, including heightened anxiety, panic attacks, and
post-traumatic stress symptoms. Celebrity cases of stalking have ignited recent stalking
legislation and empirical research, both of which are in developmental stages. Research,
although scarce, suggests certain risk factors increase one's likelihood of victimization or
perpetration of stalking. This study examines the influence of predictive factors on
stalking victimization or perpetration among 1,490 college students at the University of
Florida. Participants responded to questions measuring stalking victimization and
perpetration as well as questions measuring demographic information, attitudes, lifestyle
behaviors, and personal characteristics. Logistic regression models were estimated to
identify factors that predict the likelihood of becoming a stalking victim or perpetrator.
Findings indicate that factors that significantly influence stalking perpetration do not vary
by gender; however, factors that significantly predict stalking victimization do vary by
gender. Exposure to violence in the family of origin emerged as the strongest predictor
of stalking perpetration and victimization. Policy implications from this research and
recommendations for future research are discussed.
Stalking is a crime that has only recently been recognized as a legal term, a
criminal offense, and an interest for research (Bjerregaard, 2000; Davis & Frieze, 2000;
Davis, Ace, & Andra, 2000; Langhinrichsen-Rohling & Rohling, 2000). Celebrity
victims of stalking initially captured media attention, which quickly lead to an
unprecedented explosion of legal action against the perpetration of unwanted pursuit
behavior (Perez, 1993). Because stalking has only been considered a crime since 1990,1
research investigating the issues surrounding stalking victimization and perpetration is
still in developmental stages.
Empirical research has determined victims of stalking often experience adverse
short- and long-term consequences from exposure to the repeated, harassing, and
frightening stalking behaviors. Serious emotional effects of stalking victimization
include feelings of paranoia, fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (Hall,
1998; Pathe & Mullen, 1997). Stalking victims also report experiencing harmful physical
symptoms such as appetite disturbance, headaches, asthma attacks, persistent nausea, and
chronic sleep disturbance (Pathe & Mullen, 1997). Spitzberg and Cupach (2003)
compiled a comprehensive record of injurious consequences found by many other
researchers to be associated with stalking victimization. Negative effects of exposure to
stalking victimization include increased aggression, lowered quality of life, onset of
1 California was the first state to recognize stalking as a crime (California Penal Code 646.9 ).
nightmares, and suicidal thoughts (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2003). It is clear that victims of
stalking are exposed to distressing and traumatic harassment from their perpetrators,
which leads to damaging outcomes. Therefore, stalking is an important issue for social
concern due to the numerous adverse consequences experienced by individuals who are
The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS), conducted by Tjaden
and Thoennes (1998), was the first national survey of women's experiences with stalking
and emotional, physical, and sexual violence. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and
the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control sponsored the NVAWS. This
groundbreaking study was conducted using random digit dialing from November 1995 to
May 1996 and resulted in a sample of 8,000 men and 8,000 women. This study remains
as the largest sample for stalking research to date. Tjaden and Thoennes (1998, pp. 1)
define stalking as "harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in
repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business,
making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a
Several studies have investigated the extent to which predictive factors influence
the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of stalking. Prior empirical research has
explored the effects of factors such as residing off-campus versus on-campus for college
students (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2002; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 1999), current
relationship status (Fisher et al., 2002), race (Bjerregaard, 2000; Fisher et al., 2002;
McCreedy & Dennis, 1996; Meloy & Gothard, 1995; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 1999),
2 Tjaden and Thoennes (1998) define stalking in their survey as repeatedly experiencing any of nine
indicators (see survey in Appendix B).
engaging in sexually risky behavior (Haugaard & Seri, 2001, 2003, 2004), and the use of
drugs and alcohol (Logan, Leukfeld, & Walker, 2000; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 1999). In
addition, a number of researchers have examined gender differences among stalking
victims' and perpetrators' propensity to exhibit specific risk factors (Bjerregaard, 2000;
Cupach & Spitzberg, 2000; Davis & Frieze, 2000; Dye & Davis, 2003; Langhinrichsen-
Rohling, Palarea, Cohen, & Rohling, 2000; Logan et al., 2000; McCreedy & Dennis,
1996). Although investigations of predictive factors that place potential victims and
perpetrators at risk of stalking are limited, these empirical studies have successfully
identified predictive factors that significantly influence the likelihood of stalking
perpetration and victimization.
The current research uses stalking questions from the NVAWS and explores the
relationship between factors that influence the risk of stalking victimization and
perpetration among college students. This study makes three important contributions to
the stalking literature. The first contribution of the current study is its focus on retesting
influential risk factors that predict stalking victimization and perpetration among college
students. In addition to assessing the predictive ability of risk factors that other studies
have begun to examine, the current study investigates the predictive ability of several
concepts that have never before been examined with stalking, including attitudes toward
women, child abuse, and a theoretical test of self-control. Theoretical tests of stalking
behavior are severely limited and Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of
crime has never before been applied to stalking perpetration or victimization.
The second important contribution this study makes to the literature is its
application of measures from the largest national stalking study (NVAWS) to a college
sample. The utilization of stalking measures from the NVAWS enables the current study
to compare stalking behaviors of college students to stalking behaviors in the general
public. Third, this study is the second largest sample to examine stalking behavior
among college students (N = 1,490) to date.3 Most studies examining stalking among
college students have used smaller samples involving two to three hundred participants
(Coleman, 1997; Cupach & Spitzberg, 2000; Dye & Davis, 2003; Langhinrichsen-
Rohling & Rohling, 2000; Sheridan, Gillett, Davies, Blaauw, & Patel, 2003; Sinclair &
Frieze, 2000; Spitzberg & Rhea, 1999). Due to the fact that victimization or perpetration
of stalking is somewhat of a rare event, it is important to use a large sample to capture an
adequate number of individuals to make appropriate and meaningful inferences.
The following chapter reviews prior literature on stalking and discusses the history
of the problem, legislative review, definitional issues, prevalence of stalking
victimization and perpetration, prior research among college samples, and factors that
predict stalking. The third chapter reviews the application of two theoretical approaches
used in prior research to explain stalking and discusses the new application of
Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime to stalking. The fourth chapter
discusses the methodology used in the current study followed by the fifth chapter
detailing results of the analysis. A discussion and conclusion section will follow and
include policy implications and recommendations for future research.
3 The largest study was conducted by Fisher et al. (2002) and involved a sample of 4,446 college students.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
History of the Problem
Stalking has only been recognized as a crime and as a serious social problem for
sixteen years. Before 1990, no country, state, or society had statutes that recognized
stalking as illegal behavior (Perez, 1993). This is not to suggest stalking behavior did not
exist prior to 1990. Meloy (1999) acknowledges that stalking has always existed in
society among human relationships. Prior to the implementation of stalking legislation,
many behaviors indicative of stalking were legally considered as harassment.
Interestingly, the media's portrayal of celebrity stalking was the catalyst that first
exposed the existence of intrusive behavior and ignited global attention. The actress
Jodie Foster was a victim of celebrity stalking whose case was one of the first to receive
media attention. Her stalker, John Hinkley, Jr., was inspired by Jodie Foster's movie
Taxi Driver to shoot President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981 in an attempt to gain
recognition and, ultimately, love from the actress. The stalking of Teresa Saldana,
famous television actress on the set of The Commish, was also among the first to gain
widespread attention. On March 15, 1982 her pursuer, Arthur Richard Jackson, lay in
wait outside her apartment and violently stabbed her until a bystander came to her rescue
(Perez, 1993). Although numerous celebrities and the public have been stalked in the
past, one particular case of celebrity stalking instantly captured the media's attention and
resulted in worldwide news coverage of astronomical proportions. Rebecca Schaeffer, a
famous actress who appeared in the television program My Sister Sam, was stalked for
two years by Robert Bardo before he shot and murdered her outside her apartment on
July 18, 1989 (Perez, 1993).
The media has also recognized politicians and other public figures as victims of
unwanted pursuit behavior (Dietz, Matthews, Van Duyne, Martell, Parry, Stewart,
Warren, & Crowder, 1991; Dietz, Matthews, Martell, Steward, Hrouda, & Warren, 1991).
Celebrity and political cases tend to be more highly publicized than other cases of
stalking (see Holmes  for an extensive list of celebrity stalking victims). Although
celebrities were first recognized as victims of stalking, this crime also affects individuals
who are not publicly well known. The following review of the laws on stalking will
provide the foundation on which to build legal and research definitions as well as new
developments within the literature.
California was the first state within the United States to enact stalking legislation
(California Penal Code 646.9 ). This law defined stalking as the "willful,
malicious, and repeated following or harassing" of another person (California Penal Code
646.9 ). By 1995, an incredibly short five years later, all fifty states and the
District of Columbia followed suit and implemented stalking legislation. Although all
fifty states enacted stalking legislation, legal definitions of stalking vary among each
state. Many states generally follow California's definition of stalking and several states
(such as Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia)
have implemented an identical reproduction of parts of the California stalking law (Idaho
Code 18-7905 ; Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:40.2 ; Mississippi Code
Ann. 97-3-107 ; Oklahoma Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, 1173 ; South Dakota
Codified Laws Ann. 22-19A-1 to -7 ; West Virginia Code 61-2-9a ).
While some states consider stalking as either a misdemeanor (Kentucky) or a felony
(Illinois and Indiana), other states offer varying degrees of legal punishments including
both misdemeanors and felonies (Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and
Missouri) (Connecticut General Statute 53a-181c ; Florida Section 784.048
; Georgia Code Ann. 16-5-90 ; Illinois III. Ann. Stat. Ch. 720, para. 5/12-
7.3 ; Indiana Code 35-45-10-5 ; Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. 508.130-.150
; Minnesota Stat. Ann. 609.749 ; Missouri Ann. Stat. 565.225 ).
Further, some states require an element of threat (Alabama Code 13A-6-90 )
while other states maintain no credible threat is needed for the crime of stalking (Florida
Section 784.048 ; Missouri Ann. Stat. 565.225 ).
Cyberstalking is any type of "electronic communication" in which the perpetrator
engages in repeatedly to willfully and maliciously harass and stalk an individual
(California Penal Code 646.9 ). Examples of cyberstalking behavior can include
repeated and unwanted instant messaging, mailing, or computer hacking into private
electronic accounts. Several states have included cyberstalking activities with their
definition of stalking (California Penal Code 646.9 ; Michigan Stat. Ann.
28.643(8), Michigan Comp. Laws Ann. 750.41 lh ; Missouri Ann. Stat.
565.225 ; New Jersey Stat. Ann. 2C: 12-10 ; and North Carolina Gen.
Stat. 14-277.3 ), whereas most states have not included cyberstalking as part of
the legal definition of stalking.
Several states include the perpetrator's harassment to the victim's immediate
family as a violation of the legal definition of stalking (Idaho Code 18-7905 ;
Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:40.2 ; Maine Rev. Stat. Ann. 17-A 210 ;
New Mexico Stat. Ann. 30-3A3 ; and Utah Code Ann. 76-5-106.5 ),
while most states do not allow unwanted pursuit behaviors toward the victims family
members to be included in the legal definition of stalking. While the majority of states
are quite vague as to the types of behaviors that represent stalking, a small number of
states list specific unwanted pursuit behaviors as an example of stalking conduct (Alaska
Statute 11.41.260 ; Colorado Rev. Statute 18-9-111 ). Specific
behaviors from the perpetrator elicit more severe punishments among some states. For
example, many jurisdictions increase the criminal charge and/or punishment if the
stalking perpetrator has been charged more than once for the crime of stalking, uses or
carries a deadly weapon while stalking, stalks a minor under the age of sixteen years old,
or is in violation of parole or a protective order set forth by the victim (Alaska Statute
11.41.260 ; Connecticut Section 53a-181c ; Hawaii Rev. Statute 711-
1106 ; Utah Code Ann. 76-5-106.5 ). The state of Minnesota increases the
stalking perpetrator's charge to an aggravated violation (a felony) if the perpetrator has
falsely impersonated another individual or has discriminatorily stalked the victim based
on his/her "race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability,...age, or national
origin" (Minnesota Stat. Ann. 609.749 [1993 }). The state of Louisiana legally requires
all stalking perpetrators to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (Louisiana Rev. Stat. Section
A handful of states authorized certain victim rights in their legal code. For
example, the state of Georgia requires that victims be notified upon the release or escape
of their stalker from incarceration (Georgia Code Ann. 16-5-90 ). North
Carolina and Oklahoma have both enacted new laws establishing 'Address
Confidentiality Programs' that allow state government agencies to keep confidential the
addresses of victims of stalking (North Carolina Gen. Stat. 14-277.3 ; Oklahoma
Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, 1173 ).
With all the inconsistencies and variations among all fifty states, there is a clear
need for thorough and standardized stalking legislation. The Federal Government
attempted to provide legal guidance for the states to model, however each state's stalking
legislation still varies considerably. The United States Federal Government later
recognized stalking as a crime in 1996, as part of the Violence Against Women Act
established earlier in 1994 (Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement
Act of 1994, Public Law 103-322). The Federal Government's legal recognition of
stalking occurred one year after all fifty states officially implemented individual stalking
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) evaluated the stalking legislation of each
state and developed stalking code recommendations based on perceived problems and
oversights within individual state legislation. The NIJ published 'A Model Antistalking
Code for the States' for purposes of providing states with written guidelines and to
promote the adoption of these federally recommended stalking statutes (National Institute
of Justice, 1996). The Model Antistalking Code for the States from the NIJ was an
official recommendation for each state to change state statutes to mirror that of the Model
Code due to inconsistent and, often, incomprehensive state statutes. Although some
states have already begun to amend their original stalking code to include elements
discussed in the Model Antistalking Code for the States, many state laws have yet to
model stalking legislation after the federal guidelines. Because the Model Antistalking
Code for the States was published only ten years ago, the full effect of the federal
stalking guidance on state legislation still remains unknown.
The Model Code report details a definition of stalking that requires an element of
fear and also considers criminal the stalking or harassing of the victim's family by the
perpetrator (National Institute of Justice, 1996). According to the NIJ (1996), most states
require the existence of three fundamental elements before an individual may be charged
and convicted of stalking, including (1) a course of conduct (a pattern of behavior), (2)
the presence of threats, and (3) criminal intent to cause fear in the victim. These elements
specified by the Department of Justice are quite broad and are often only a portion of
what may be required by individual states. For example, in addition to other elements,
some states mandate that direct threats must be made to the victim before the crime of
stalking has been committed whereas other states consider both indirect and direct threats
to be sufficient in meeting the threat requirement. The Model Antistalking Code for the
States does not necessitate a credible threat be made by the stalking perpetrator and
asserts that stalkers engage in predatory behavior that, taken together, would cause a
reasonable person fear (National Institute of Justice, 1996).
Although threats are not necessary for the Federal Government's classification of
stalking, the Model Antistalking Code for the States recommends that an element of fear
be experienced by the victim. Specific stalking behaviors are deliberately absent from
the Model Antistalking Code for the States due to the impossibly long list of potential
stalking behaviors perpetrators may perform and the desire to not restrict the types of
pursuit and harassment that can be interpreted as stalking. The Model Antistalking Code
for the States advocates implementation of both felony and misdemeanor charges for
stalking perpetrators, depending on the severity of the crime (National Institute of Justice,
By the beginning of 2000, only a decade after the first stalking law was passed,
several other countries (including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia) had
initiated or enhanced anti-stalking legislation. Although the United States and several
other countries have recently and quickly implemented stalking legislation, a large
number of countries have not yet established legal descriptions of stalking (Sheridan,
Davies, & Boon, 2001).
Although states vary considerably as to the elements included in their stalking
legislation, all states require stalking behavior to be harassing, repeated, and unwanted.
Because stalking legislation is still changing and improving across state jurisdictions, it is
anticipated that legal definitions of stalking will become more alike in the future.
Definition of Stalking
In light of the fact that the empirical study of stalking is in developmental stages, it
is important to note that a standard definition of stalking does not yet exist in research.
Because a substantial portion of stalking occurs in connection with an intimate dating
relationship (before, during, or after an established relationship, or in an attempt to begin
an intimate relationship) (Brewster, 2000; Haugaard & Seri, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes,
1998), it is necessary to address the difference between courtship behavior and stalking
behavior. Stalking behaviors within an intimate relationship exist on a continuum with
one end being typical dating conduct and the other end being intrusive stalking (Cupach
& Spitzberg, 1998). For example, after the dissolution of an intimate relationship one
partner puts effort into re-establishing the relationship by repeatedly calling and visiting
their ex-partner who considers the behaviors unwanted. This is an example of the fine
line between stalking and a common attempt to rekindle a lost love.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have debated the mental and emotional status of
stalkers. The literature is mixed regarding the classification of stalkers as mentally ill.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV)
(American Psychiatric Association, 1994) defines psychological disorders but does not
include any identification of stalking perpetration. Zona, Palarea, and Lane (1998)
contend that although the DSM-IV does not clearly classify stalking perpetration as a
psychological disorder, many stalkers exhibit a number of other mental illness symptoms
that are specified in the DSM-IV. For example, the DSM-IV describes major mental
disorders, all of which stalkers may suffer from, such as thought disorders, mood
disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse (Zona et al., 1998). Zona et al.
(1998) reveal that 63% of their sample of stalking offenders have suffered from a
significant mental illness (either a personality disorder or other mental disorder). Some
researchers (Dietz et al., 1991) openly assume the stalkers they have studied are mentally
ill. Other researchers have mixed findings and determine mental illness is found to play
only a small role in the pursuit and murder of public figures (Fein & Vossekuil, 1998).
Still other researchers declare stalking perpetrators are not mentally ill (Meloy, 1998;
Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Tjaden and Thoennes (1998) found only 7% of victims
report their stalkers were either mentally ill or abusing drugs or alcohol. There is still no
clear consensus among researchers as to the mental soundness of stalking perpetrators.
Previous research has used an array of definitions for the phenomenon widely
known as stalking. Although an accepted definition for stalking does not yet exist, most
research encompasses the same basic tenets. At a very basic level, the dictionary defines
stalking as the stealthy search and pursuit of prey (Merriam-Webster, 2003). This
definition, however, is an insufficient characterization of the series of behaviors that
comprise stalking because it omits important stalking behaviors and includes behaviors
that would not be considered stalking. Researchers have struggled to compose a clear
and concise definition of stalking that provides enough detail to sufficiently determine the
specific behaviors and actions that describe the act of stalking, but that does not include
an overabundance of limiting elements. Most definitions of stalking have been broad,
such as "the act of following, viewing, communicating with, or moving threateningly or
menacingly toward another person" (Wright, Burgess, Burgess, Laszlo, McCreary, &
Douglas, 1996, pp. 487) and definitions typically require the presence of intrusive and
harassing behaviors on two or more occasions (Sheridan, Gillet, & Davies, 2002). Meloy
and Gothard (1995, pp. 258) use the same description of stalking as California's legal
definition (California Penal Code 646.9 ) and classify stalking as "the willful,
malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that threatens his or
While most researchers define stalking, others have chosen to exclude a definitive
description of the construct by allowing research participants to interpret individual
definitions (Emerson, Ferris, & Gardner, 1998; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 1999). Some
definitions of stalking include components of intent, fear, threats, and danger
(Bjerregaard, 2000; White, Kowalski, Lyndon, & Valentine 2000). Overall, the majority
of research relies upon a definition of stalking that stresses repeated negative behavior in
which the perpetrator pursues the victim on two or more occasions and in which the
victim perceives the behavior as undesirable. Therefore, based on this assumption,
stalking does not exist if the behavior occurs only once and if the victim perceives the
behavior and relationship as positive.
In the midst of the academic and legal debate about definitional issues and
variations of the classification of stalking, several other terms have been developed by
empirical research to either replace or supplement the term "stalking." Several scholars
intentionally avoid use of the term "stalking," implying that individuals often have
misconceptions, misinterpretations, and preconceived notions of the word and, therefore,
the use of the term "stalking" may not be an appropriate label for the desired outcome.
Other scholars argue that the use of the term "stalking" limits the breadth of behaviors
respondents should consider as negative and intrusive (Haugaard & Seri, 2003). Other
terms that have been used to refer to stalking, but are comprised with different
definitions, include obsessional following (Meloy, 1996), obsessive relational intrusions
(Spitzberg & Cupach, 2003), obsessional harassment (Rosenfeld, 2004), unwanted
pursuit behaviors (Langhinrichsen-Rohling et al., 2000), and intrusive contact (Haugaard
& Seri, 2003). The use of these terms have considerably added to the complication of
defining a standard definition of stalking because introducing a new term with a
corresponding new definition may render the comparison and replication of research
findings difficult and/or impossible. The addition of new stalking-related terms and
definitions may, however, provide beneficial contributions to the literature by introducing
alternatives to the confusion associated with the term "stalking." Using alternative
stalking terms may also avoid the need to consider legal variations across different
jurisdictions. Implementing the use of new terms to replace "stalking" appears to best
suit research testing specific concepts that may not legally qualify as stalking (such as
pursuit behaviors that do not occur repeatedly). The conjecture that the term "stalking"
may alter research participants' responses, and therefore may be inappropriate for
research purposes, has been challenged. Phillips, Quirk, Rosenfeld, and O'Connor
(2004) report that respondents did not appear to be influenced by use of the word
"stalking" as opposed to the phrase "followed (i.e., more than once) and/or harassed by
another person" because the proportion of respondents indicating prior victimization of
"stalking" versus repeated following and harassing remained the same.
The term "stalking" appears to be a single name for a vast range of behaviors (See
Appendix A for a partial list of stalking behavior). Stalking can consist of behaviors that
range from following, watching, and covertly obtaining information to more dangerous
behaviors such as sexual coerciveness, physical violence, and murder. Although the
literature on stalking has not come to a clear consensus of what precise elements
constitute stalking, the vast majority of research seems to embrace several standard
aspects. Most research requires stalking behavior to be intrusive, unwanted, repeated,
and frightening or harassing in nature (Haugaard & Seri, 2003; Tjaden & Thoennes,
1998). Therefore, the current study will rely on these descriptive elements to define
stalking. This study employs the NVAWS definition of stalking, which refers to
"harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as
following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing
phone calls, [or] leaving written messages or objects or vandalize a person's property
(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998, pp. 1)."
Because stalking is still in developmental stages with regard to research and legal
attention it is likely that empirical research will continue to address definitional issues.
As research interest in stalking continues to grow and as legal progress changes and
improves, it is anticipated that research definitions and laws addressing stalking will
become more sophisticated and homogenous in the future.
Prevalence of Stalking
Prior research estimates prevalence rates of stalking victimization to be between
6% and 27% for college students (Logan et al., 2000; McCreedy & Dennis, 1996).
Although stalking was originally considered to be a crime that affected only women,
research has shown men are also stalking victims. However, women are still targeted by
stalkers at a higher rate than men. Average rates of stalking victimization range from
13% to 30% for female college students (Fisher et al., 2002; Fremouw, Westrup, &
Pennypacker, 1997) and 11% to 19% for male college students (Bjerregaard, 2000;
Haugaard & Seri, 2001). These alarmingly high rates of stalking victimization among
college students warrant further investigation for purposes of ascertaining specific
predictive factors of this behavior.
It is important to compare stalking prevalence rates of college students to rates
among the general population to better determine the extent of occurrences, potential risk
factors unique to both groups, and the ability to generalize rates among college students
to rates in the general population. Tjaden and Thoennes (1998) analyzed data from a
national sample of 8,000 women and 8,000 men using both narrow and broad definitions
of stalking. The findings from the more restrictive definition, requiring the victim to feel
a great amount offer, revealed 8% of women and 2% of men report stalking
victimization. When the broader definition of stalking was used, requiring victims to feel
only somewhat fearful, the prevalence rate for stalking victimization increased to 12% for
female respondents and doubled to 4% for males.
Samples of college students report stalking victimization at much higher rates than
the general public (Bjerregaard, 2000; Fisher et al., 2002; McCreedy & Dennis, 1996;
Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). It is possible that college students are more likely to be
victimized than individuals in the general population or that college students who are
victimized by stalking are more likely to report these experiences compared to
individuals in the general population who are victimized by stalking. Many researchers
argue college students are more likely to experience stalking, reflected by the higher rates
of victimization among college students compared to findings among the general
population, such as the NVAWS (Bjerregaard, 2000; Fisher et al., 2002). Several studies
have found younger people, and especially college students, are at a higher risk for
experiencing stalking (Bjerregaard, 2000; Tjaden et al., 2000). Tjaden and Thoennes
(1998) report 64% of their national sample who had been victimized by stalking were
first stalked before the age of twenty-nine. In light of these findings, attention should be
shifted toward investigating factors that place college students at an increased risk for
Previous research on stalking perpetration among college students and among the
general population is more limited than research on stalking victimization. Of the studies
that have investigated the prevalence of stalking perpetration, most have found lower
rates of perpetration in comparison with reported rates of victimization. Stalking
perpetration rates reported by college students range from 1% (Fremouw et al., 1997) to
8% (Haugaard & Seri, 2003). Haugaard and Seri (2003) report that 7% of females and
11% of males from a sample of 631 college students admitted to perpetrating stalking
Davis et al. (2000) report that 30% and 36% of respondents from two college
samples reported perpetrating between one and five acts of stalking. As previously
discussed, legal definitions of stalking requires two or more pursuit behaviors to exist
before the crime of stalking has been committed. The fact that these researchers founds
such a high percentage of respondents reporting stalking perpetration may be attributed to
many individuals committing only one act of stalking-like behavior. For descriptive
purposes, these researchers chose to overlook the legal requirement of repeated behavior;
however, the statistical analyses for perpetration in this research are based on individuals
who have committed more than one stalking behavior. These researchers further state
between 7% and 10% (for two separate samples) of college students reported perpetrating
between six and twenty-three stalking acts. This group of stalking perpetrators meets the
generally accepted requirements for stalking (committing at least two intrusive
behaviors), and yield a surprisingly higher rate of stalking perpetration than has been
Similar to research on stalking perpetration among college students, large-scale
studies examining stalking perpetration within the general public are also more limited
compared to stalking victimization research. The only studies measuring stalking
perpetration among samples of non-college participants have examined samples of
convicted stalkers (Logan, Nigoff, Walker, & Jordon, 2002; Meloy, 1996; Mullen, Pathe,
Purcell, & Stuart, 1999; Schwartz-Watts & Morgan, 1998), batterers and stalkers
(Burgess, Baker, Greening, Hartman, Burgess, Douglas, & Halloran, 1997; Burgess,
Harner, Baker, Hartman, & Lole, 2001), and case studies of stalkers (Kurt, 1995). Some
studies collected data on stalking perpetration in the general population from samples of
stalking victims (Brewster, 2000; Emerson et al., 1998).
The nature of the relationship between stalking victim and perpetrator has been
investigated using samples from the general public. Tjaden and Thoennes (1998) report
the majority of stalking victims know their perpetrator. Further, this research finds only
23% of women and 36% of males report being stalked by strangers. Of the studies that
surveyed stalking victims, between 29% (Pathe & Mullen, 1997) and 92% (Brewster,
2000) of victims were pursued by a current or former intimate partner. Pathe and Mullen
(1997) report 21% of stalking victims were stalked by an acquaintance and 16% by a
stranger. Similarly, Sheridan et al. (2001) found 37% of victims were pursued by an
acquaintance and 12% by a stranger. In one study of stalking perpetrators, 30% report
pursuing an ex-partner, 19% acknowledge they stalked an acquaintance, 14% confess to
stalking a stranger, and 23% admit to stalking an individual with whom they had a
professional relationship (Mullen et al., 1999).
Research has shown younger individuals, including college students, report stalking
victimization and perpetration at higher levels than older individuals. Overall, empirical
research indicates both men and women experience stalking victimization and
perpetration. Prior research also reveals females are victimized by stalking more often
than males, and males report stalking perpetration more often than females.
Prior Research Among College Samples
The largest sample size used in stalking prior research among college students
involved 4,446 female college students and focused specifically on victimization (Fisher
et al., 2002). The largest sample size used to research stalking perpetration among
college students surveyed 631 respondents (Haugaard & Seri, 2003). The most common
stalking behavior reported in nearly all prior research of stalking among college students
is unwanted phone calls. On average, between 63% and 91% of stalking victims
indicated experiencing unwanted and repeated phone calls from their stalker (Cupach &
Spitzberg, 2000; Haugaard & Seri, 2003). Other common stalking behaviors reported by
victims include perpetrators waiting outside or inside places, following, and unsolicited
in-person conversations (Fisher et al., 2002; Langhinrichsen-Rohling et al., 2000).
Several studies have examined the nature of the relationship between stalking
victims and perpetrators among college students. Results indicate victims report being
stalked by individuals they know well (current or prior intimate partner or friend) and
individuals they do not know well (acquaintance or stranger). Of the studies involving
college students, there is an overall consensus that many victims know their stalkers well.
In fact, between 40% (McCreedy & Dennis, 1996) and 100% (Haugaard & Seri, 2001) of
victims knew their stalker well. Fremouw et al. (1997) report between 40% and 47% of
female stalking victims are pursued by a former partner. Similarly, Bjerregaard (2000)
finds 41% of female victims and 41% of male victims were stalked by an ex-partner.
Spitzberg and Rhea (1999) report 34% of their college sample experienced obsessional
relational intrusive victimization (experiencing non-threatening unwanted pursuit
behaviors) by an ex-partner, 38% reported the perpetrator as a friend, and 25% identified
the pursuer as an acquaintance. Research by Haugaard and Seri (2001) determined 77%
of victims were previously physically intimate with their stalker, 18% engaged in an
emotionally intimate relationship with the stalker, 12% reported they were in a
committed dating relationship with their perpetrator, and 3% identified their pursuer as a
friend. Findings from the largest sample of college students by Fisher et al. (2002)
indicate 80% of stalking victims knew or had seen their stalker before the intrusive
behaviors began whereas 18% report their stalker was a stranger. Of those 80% who
knew their stalker, 43% were stalked by an ex-partner, 35% were stalked by a classmate
or acquaintance, and 10% were pursued by a friend (Fisher et al., 2002).
The previous research on college student stalking victimization and perpetration
provides valuable insight to an otherwise unexplored phenomenon; however, they do not
exist without limitations. Methodological issues arise when researchers do not provide
respondents with a clear definition of stalking. For example, McCreedy and Dennis
(1996, pp.76) allow their subjects to interpret the meaning of 'stalking' by asking, "Have
you ever been stalked by someone (known or unknown) whom you thought might do you
physical harm?" Similarly, Philips et al. (2004) do not provide respondents with a clear
definition of stalking before asking respondents if they have ever been victimized by
stalking. Another methodological limitation of several studies that explore stalking
among college students is the categorization of stalking as exhibiting only one intrusive
behavior. As discussed earlier, considering only one intrusive behavior as stalking
creates definitional issues. According to the requirements of all state stalking statutes,
the intrusive and harassing behavior must be committed repeatedly. Therefore, any
intrusive or harassing behavior experienced only once should not be considered stalking,
according to legal definitions. Davis et al. (2000) classify their college sample of stalking
perpetrators into two groups: students who have perpetrated one to five acts of stalking
behaviors and students who have perpetrated between six and twenty-three acts.
Although grouping perpetrators based on the number of intrusive behaviors is an
interesting and beneficial approach to determine differences between mild and severe
stalking perpetrators, the analysis should only examine those perpetrators who report two
or more intrusive behaviors. Similarly, Langhinrichsen-Rohling et al. (2000) and Sinclair
and Frieze (2000) include students in their analysis of perpetrators who indicate
committing only one unwanted pursuit behavior. Legal definitions and the widely
accepted research definition of stalking do not include individuals who report only
committing one intrusive behavior. 1
Overall, prior research among college students reveals stalking victims most often
experience unwanted and repeated telephone calls from their stalkers. Prior research also
indicates victims often know their stalkers well and they are frequently friends or
intimate partners with their stalkers.
Factors that Predict Stalking Victimization and Perpetration
A number of studies have examined the influence of specific risk factors on
stalking victimization and perpetration. This line of research is increasing and has only
begun to explore the possibility that there are common characteristics among those who
stalk and among those who are stalked. Three studies investigating stalking among
college students examined the influence of residing on-campus in comparison to living
off-campus on victimization (Fisher et al., 2002; McCreedy & Dennis, 1996; Mustaine &
1 Most research adopts a general definition of stalking very similar to that of the NVAWS, which includes
repetitive intrusive behaviors that are unwanted, frightening, and threatening to the victim. Refer to
Appendix A for a list of potential stalking behaviors.
Tewksbury, 1999). Both Fisher et al. (2002) and Mustaine and Tewksbury (1999) found
female students residing off-campus to be at a significantly higher risk than females
residing on-campus for stalking victimization. Similarly, McCreedy and Dennis (1996)
report that the majority of stalking victims live off-campus (85%) and are women (85%).
A higher level of guardianship often provided by on-campus residences could potentially
explain the increased risk of victimization living off-campus for college students.
Mustaine and Tewksbury (1999) describe on-campus housing as a potentially safer
environment than off-campus residences due to security guards, resident assistants, and
residents who are knowledgeable of who belongs and does not belong in the dormitory.
Fisher et al. (2002) further attribute an increased risk of stalking victimization to students
who reside off-campus to the fact that virtually all on-campus housing requires dual or
multiple occupancy, thereby providing on-campus residents with a 'safety in numbers'
type of guardianship. This means on-campus residents are most likely required to reside
with one or more individuals, or protectors, whereas students living off-campus are
permitted to dwell alone.
In addition to the location of residence, current relationship status has also been
empirically linked to a heightened risk of stalking victimization. Fisher et al. (2002)
discovered college students who are seriously or occasionally dating are more likely to
become a victim of stalking. This unique discovery may be explained by the finding that
many victims are stalked by previous or current intimate partners or by the finding that
individuals who are exposed to more people and social situations are more likely to be
victimized (Fisher et al., 2002). Therefore, college students who are actively dating may
expose themselves to an increased number of potential offenders. Based on prior
research, it can be expected that respondents who are currently dating will have a higher
likelihood of stalking victimization and perpetration. Inquiring of current dating status
identifies people who date and, therefore, who may be more likely to experience stalking.
Prior research examining the impact of race on stalking victimization and
perpetration are rare and findings have been mixed (Melton, 2000). McCreedy and
Dennis (1996) reported that 85% of their sample of stalking victims was White whereas
Meloy and Gothard (1995) found only 35% of their sample of stalking victims to be
White. Bjerregaard (2000) found stalking perpetrators to be mostly White (67% of
perpetrators who stalk females and 81% of perpetrators who stalk males were White).
Mustaine and Tewksbury (1999) found that race was not a statistically significant
predictive factor for stalking victimization while Fisher et al. (2002) determined
Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders were significantly less likely to be victimized
than Whites while Native Americans and Alaskan Natives were significantly more likely
to be victimized than Whites. In light of these conflicting findings, it is clear more
attention must be focused on the impact of race on stalking victimization and
A few studies have investigated the relationship between drug and alcohol use and
the increased risk of stalking victimization or perpetration. Mustaine and Tewksbury
(1999) discovered college females who engage in drinking and drug use behaviors are at
an increased risk for stalking victimization. Similarly, Logan et al. (2000) suggest that
alcohol use significantly increases the likelihood of perpetrating stalking behaviors. It
appears that substance use increases the risk of both stalking perpetration and stalking
Prior research has linked sexually risky activity to stalking victimization.
Haugaard and Seri (2001, 2003, 2004) report interesting, yet contradicting findings
among three publications. Their first study reveals a statistically significant finding that
stalking victims report less sexual activity during high school and college than non-
victims (Haugaard & Seri, 2001). Alternatively, these researchers later find stalking
victims report more sexual activity during high school and college than non-victims
(Haugaard & Seri, 2003). Stalking victims from this study were also more likely to have
engaged in sexual activity at an earlier age than non-victims (Haugaard & Seri, 2003).
Later, these researchers find no significant differences between victims and non-victims
of stalking and sexual risk taking (which included age and frequency of sexual
intercourse) (Haugaard & Seri, 2004). Surprisingly, the authors do not mention any of
the sexual risk taking findings from their prior work. It is unclear as to why such
research would yield such staggeringly different findings because all three publications
include the same stalking measures and two of the publications (Haugaard & Seri, 2003,
2004) examined the same sample of 631 college students. Within the two publications
using the same sample of 631 college students, both analyses use ANOVAs to test the
impact of sexual risk taking on stalking. These remarkable and opposing findings
warrant further examination of the impact sexual risk taking has on stalking.
Gender has been a common factor examined in prior stalking research. McCreedy
and Dennis (1996) report that the majority of stalking victims are women (84.8%). On
the other hand, Cupach and Spitzberg (2000) reported that males and females were
equally likely to report obsessional relational intrusion behaviors. Although some studies
of college students indicate males are often perpetrators and females are typically victims
(Bjerregaard, 2000; Logan et al., 2000), other research reveals no gender difference for
reported stalking perpetration (Dye & Davis, 2003; Langhinrichsen-Rohling et al., 2000).
This finding would mean that males are statistically no more or less likely than females to
be stalkers. Interestingly, a finding of no gender differences for stalking perpetration
indicates that females report committing a substantial amount of unwanted, repeated, and
harassing behaviors, which violates the traditional view of females as victims and males
Attitudes toward women have never before been tested as a factor predictive of
stalking perpetration or victimization. Because this link has not yet been studied, there is
a clear need to investigate the relationship between attitudes toward women and stalking.
This exploratory research may yield significant findings and should not be discounted as
a possible stalking risk factor. Prior research also indicates investigating attitudes toward
women should be one of the next steps within the stalking literature (White et al., 2000).
In sum, perceptions of stalking have evolved since the first stalking legislation was
passed in 1990. Although celebrity cases of stalking first introduced the crime to the
public, researchers, lawmakers, and the community have since recognized that this crime
affects a wide range of individuals. With varying stalking laws and definitions,
identifying stalking behavior can prove to be more difficult than identifying many other
types of crime. Although no one clear definition of stalking exists within the literature,
researchers seem to have reached a consensus about the basic elements required for
stalking such as intrusive, unwanted, repeated, and frightening or harassing behavior.
Similarly, the current study follows suit and considers stalking as identical to the
definition outlined by the NVAWS, which includes repetitive intrusive behaviors that are
unwanted, frightening, and threatening to the victim (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Using
this definition of stalking, the current study attempts to replicate and build upon prior
research that investigates predictive factors of stalking. Prior research reveals younger
people are victimized by stalking at a higher rate than those who are older (Tjaden &
Thoennes, 1998) and that between 6% and 27% of college students are victims of
stalking (Logan et al., 2000; McCreedy & Dennis, 1996). Prior research also shows that
between 1% and 8% of college students are perpetrators of stalking (Fremouw et al.,
1997; Haugaard & Seri, 2003). In addition to examining factors found by prior research
to be related to stalking victimization and perpetration, the current study also investigates
the link between stalking and theoretical factors.
The previous literature on theoretical explanations of stalking is severely limited,
but can, in part, be attributed to the fact that stalking research is somewhat still
developing. As a result, stalking literature is still exploratory and descriptive and has not
yet involved many theoretical advancements. The only two theoretical perspectives
applied to the occurrence of stalking have been routine activities theory and attachment
theory. Although the current study does not test routine activities theory or attachment
theory, a review of prior research is provided. Following a review of routine activities
theory and attachment theory is an overview of applications of the general theory of
crime. Finally, an explanation of the current study's test of the general theory of crime
Cohen and Felson (1979) developed routine activities theory, which introduced a
unique way in which to study criminal activity. Routine activities theory does not focus
on the characteristics of the criminal but rather centers on circumstances of the crime
itself. The three elements of routine activities theory include the existence of motivated
offenders (criminals), suitable targets (victim or object), and the lack of capable
guardians (such as individuals, rules, or preventative objects). The absence of one of
these three elements may drastically reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior whereas
the combination of all three elements in the same time and space is likely to significantly
increase the likelihood of crime (Cohen & Felson, 1979).
Two studies have applied routine activities theory to the explanation of stalking
victimization (Fisher et al., 2002; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 1999). Both studies tested the
theoretical approach using large samples of female college students (N = 4,446; N = 861,
respectively). Fisher et al. (2002) argue female college students are at an increased
proximity to motivated offenders due to their status as a student, since they are frequently
in situations that expose them to many social situations and, therefore, to potential
perpetrators. Further, this study claims full-time female college students are at an even
higher risk of stalking victimization than part-time students due to the increased amount
of time exposed to the college campus and potential perpetrators. Female college
students may also be more likely than female non-college students to attend social events
that expose them to large proportions of males, such as fraternity, house, or dormitory
parties located in male residences (Fisher et al., 2002). In addition to the respondents'
current enrollment status (part-time versus full-time), proximity to motivated offenders
was also measured by the sex of the respondents' roommates. This variable was
designed to indicate the increased risk of stalking victimization if respondents reside
closely with males. The location of the respondent's residence (either on- or off-campus)
was used to determine proximity to motivated offenders in addition to a scale measuring
tendencies to be in places where males are exclusively located.
Prior research states that stalking perpetrators are often males and stalking victims
are often females (Fisher et al., 2002; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998: Tjaden, Thoennes, &
Allison, 2000; White et al., 2000). Fisher et al. (2002), therefore, suggests that female
college students are exposed to males more often than non-students due to the inevitable
proximity to males in classrooms and dormitories. Fisher et al. (2002) incorporate
several measures of the suitable target element for testing routine activities theory, which
includes the frequency that the respondent uses drugs and alcohol and the respondent's
current relationship status. In this study, suitable targets of stalking victimization are
college women who place themselves at an increased risk by frequently consuming drugs
and/or alcohol, and by being in a dating relationship. The presence of capable guardians
was measured by examining the location of respondent's residence (living alone versus
Fisher et al. (2002) found overall support for routine activities theory. Consistent
with routine activities theory, stalking victimization was dependent upon the victim's
lifestyle. College women who were more likely to be victimized were also more likely to
live alone (suitable target), to patronize establishments that served alcohol, and to be
involved in a dating relationship (proximity to motivated offenders) (Fisher et al., 2002).
Mustaine and Tewksbury (1999) also conducted a study that tested the application
of routine activities to female college student stalking victimization. This study
measured several lifestyle activities of respondents and reported that the variables
predictive of stalking victimization were indicators of being suitable targets, such as
buying drugs, drinking to excess in public, shopping frequently, and being employed.
Each of these behaviors ranged from illegal and dangerous to legal and ordinary,
although all significantly predicted an increased chance of being a staking victim.
Capable guardians were considered nonexistent off-campus and, therefore, Mustaine and
Tewksbury (1999) use this measure (live on-campus versus off-campus) to determine the
presence of capable guardians. These researchers assume motivated offenders naturally
exist within society and a variable for this element of the theory is not used.
Mustaine and Tewksbury (1999) find overall support for routine activities theory.
In other words, college women who reside off-campus, who engage in risky substance
use (drugs and alcohol), and who regularly place themselves in social situations (such as
frequenting the mall or being at work) are significantly more likely to be victimized by
In addition to the studies that apply routine activities theory to stalking
victimization, attachment theory has been used to explain the perpetration of stalking.
Attachment theory has its roots in the discipline of psychology and states that children
develop an early bond with caregivers and the quality of the bond remains relatively
stable throughout the life span (Ainsworth, 1989; Bowlby, 1969). Attachment theory
describes secure attachment, insecure-avoidant attachment, and insecure-ambivalent
attachment (Ainsworth, 1989). Whereas attachment theory initially characterized the
bond developed by children to their caregivers, Hazan and Shaver (1987) apply
attachment theory to explain attachment among dating partners. This application of
attachment theory would suggest that bonds developed during childhood not only predict
the types of bonds to those same parental figures during adulthood, but also characterize
the type of bond experienced during adult intimate partner relationships (Hazan &
Taken a step further, attachment theory may account for stalking behavior
(Kienlen, 1998). More specifically, Kienlen (1998) states that individuals who develop
insecure attachments with caregivers may be more likely to develop a pattern of
preoccupied attachment in adulthood and in dating relationships, leading to stalking
perpetration. To test this hypothesis, criminal stalkers were questioned about early
childhood experiences including the presence of divorce, a sudden change or loss of a
caregiver, and child abuse. Findings overwhelmingly indicated stalkers in the sample
were exposed to troubling childhood experiences with their caregivers. Sixty-three
percent of stalkers experienced a sudden change in caregiver and 55% reported being
victimized by child abuse (Kienlen, Birmingham, Solberg, O'Regan, & Meloy, 1997).
Therefore, Kienlen et al. (1997) suggest that a relationship exists between troubling
childhood experiences and the existence of insecure attachments with caregivers and the
perpetration of stalking behaviors.
The current study does not test routine activities theory or attachment theory due to
a lack of applicable variables needed to sufficiently test each theoretical approach. In
terms of routine activities theory measures of suitable targets, the current study did not
inquire about the level of social interaction/exposure or current enrollment status (part-
time/full-time) of the respondents. Furthermore, motivated offenders could not be
adequately identified. Finally, the presence or absence of capable guardians could not be
assessed accurately by asking only if respondents reside on or off-campus because off-
campus housing may include living with parents, roommates, or family members who
could serve as capable guardians. In terms of attachment theory measures, the current
study did not inquire about respondents' level and quality of attachment to caregivers
during early childhood, which would be necessary to link childhood attachment to
Theoretical contributions to the stalking literature are extremely undeveloped and
have been limited to routine activities theory and attachment theory. Furthermore, tests
of routine activities theory have been limited to samples of female college student victims
and applications of attachment theory have been primarily restricted to legally identified
samples of stalking perpetrators. There is a critical need for the application of additional
theoretical approaches to the study of stalking victimization and perpetration.
Among many other theories, Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of
crime has never been used to explain the phenomenon of stalking. Several recent
research articles within the stalking literature express a strong need for future research to
investigate the extent to which low self-control predicts stalking (Rosenfeld, 2004; White
et al., 2000). Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) theory identifies several elements of self-
control and suggests that individuals with low self-control prefer a simple and immediate
fulfillment of desires, seek few long-term benefits, and engage in behaviors that are
exciting and risky. According to a general theory of crime, individuals develop self-
control during childhood and one's level of self-control remains relatively stable over the
life course (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Turner and Piquero (2002) also provide
evidence that levels of self-control are in a state of fluctuation during childhood but
remain relatively constant in adulthood. The general theory of crime further states that
when an opportunity to commit crime presents itself, individuals with low self-control are
more likely to engage in criminal behavior than people with high self-control.
Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990, pp. 111) identify self-control as "the only enduring
personal characteristic predictive of criminal (and related) behavior."
As a result of Gottfredson and Hirschi's innovative and compelling emphasis on
the importance of self-control, scores of researchers have empirically tested the theory's
capability of predicting a variety of criminal behaviors. The General Theory of Crime
has been quite popular and controversial over the past decade, resulting in Gottfredson
and Hirschi as two of the top three researchers most commonly cited in academic journals
between 1991 and 1995 (Cohn & Farrington, 1998). As a general theory of crime, this
theoretical perspective has been applied to a wide variety of crimes and criminal
behavior. Many studies have investigated how low self-control impacts the perpetration
of crime and analogous behaviors (such as smoking, gambling, and excessive alcohol
use) and has found theoretical support (Baron, 2003; Evans, Cullen, Burton, Dunaway, &
Benson, 1997; Wright, Caspi, Moffitt, & Silva, 1999), while other empirical studies have
failed to find support for self-control theory (Patternoster & Brame, 2000). Piquero,
MacDonald, Dobrin, Daigle, & Cullen (2005) found overall support for self-control
theory as well as other risk factors on violent offending and homicide victimization.
Self-control theory has also been empirically tested and successfully supported
among studies investigating perceived sanction fairness (Piquero, Gomez-Smith, &
Langton, 2005), intimate partner aggressiveness (Sellers, 1999), the degree of monetary
gain by criminal offenders (Morcelli & Tremblay, 2004), and parenting effects on
children's low self-control (Hay, 2001). Partial theoretical support has been found in
many studies investigating gender differences in adolescent delinquency (LaGrange &
Silverman, 1999), age, gender variations in criminal behavior (Tittle, Ward, & Grasmick,
2003), and juvenile offending (Longshore, Chang, & Messina, 2005). Turner and
Piquero (2002) also found offender's levels of self-control to be significantly lower than
the levels of self-control for non-offenders.
However, Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime has also been
subjected to theoretical critiques with studies revealing no support for self-control (Akers,
1991). Wright and Beaver (2005) did not find support for self-control theory for
parenting effects on children's low self-control. Simpson and Piquero (2002) also found
no support for low self-control among corporate offenders. Forde and Kennedy (1997)
find that self-control does not directly affect criminal behavior, although self-control
factors did affect related, although not criminal, behaviors (such as drinking, smoking,
and gambling), which are often associated with crime.
Grasmick, Tittle, Bursik, and Ameklev (1993) designed a survey measurement of
low self-control, which was directly modeled by elements of self-control in Gottfredson
and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime. Grasmick et al. (1993) created, tested, and
found support for their low self-control scale's ability to predict criminal offending.
Piquero, Macintosh, and Hickman (2000) retested the validity of Grasmick et al.'s (1993)
self-control scale and confirmed its effectiveness and value in assessing respondents' low
self-control. Numerous other researchers have successfully utilized Grasmick et al.'s
(1993) popular self-control scale (Sellers, 1999; Tittle et al., 2003).
Self-control theory typically applies to the perpetration of criminal behaviors.
Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) designed their general theory of crime to explain a
predictive characteristic (low self-control) for criminal offending. The vast majority of
subsequent research has also focused on self-control theory's ability to predict the
perpetration of crime. However, recent applications of self-control theory have begun to
shift focus from perpetrator's low self-control to that of victim's low self-control.
Schreck (1999) pioneered the investigation of low self-control and criminal victimization
and found that low self-control is a risk factor for victimization, even after risky lifestyle
behaviors were controlled. Schreck (1999) further tests the versatility of applying self-
control to different types of criminal victimization and findings indicate measures of low
self-control can successfully be used as predictors of victimization for a variety of crimes.
Similarly, Steward, Elifson, and Sterk (2004) found that low self-control is a risk factor
for victimization, after also controlling for risky lifestyle behaviors. This line of research
introduces an entirely distinct and virtually unexplored perspective to Gottfredson and
Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime. In addition to the application of the general
theory of crime to victimization research, the more specific application to stalking
victimization has never been investigated to date.
Although the general theory of crime has been subjected to unsupportive critiques,
many researchers have discovered empirical support in favor of the theory. It appears as
if findings of mixed support are most common within the literature testing the general
theory of crime. Many more types of criminal perpetration and victimization warrant
further tests of self-control theory.
Self-control has not been used to explain stalking victimization or perpetration.
Because the use of theoretical applications to explain stalking has been limited, the use of
self-control theory to explain stalking would contribute important theoretical findings.
Stalking perpetrators may have lower self-control than non-perpetrators, which may help
explain their propensity to give in to their desire to stalk. As described earlier, prior
stalking research has discovered a previous relationship exists between the victim and the
perpetrator in some cases of stalking (Brewster, 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).
Because many victims and perpetrators are friends or intimate partners prior to the
stalking behavior, victims and perpetrators may have similar characteristics that bond
them in friendship or romance. Other research has shown victims and perpetrators of
crime often come from the same social networks (Gottfredson, 1987; Sampson &
Lauritsen, 1990). Sampson and Lauritsen (1990) find that offenders of crime are at a
significantly higher risk of becoming a victim of crime. It appears as if victims of crime
are often perpetrators of crime. Therefore, because victims of stalking often associate
themselves with stalking perpetrators, victims may also show evidence of lower levels of
self-control that stalking perpetrators exhibit.
Overall, theoretical tests have not been plentiful within the stalking literature. Only
routine activities theory and attachment theory have been tested and found to provide an
explanation of stalking victimization and perpetration. The current study is the first
application of Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime to college student
stalking perpetration and victimization. It is anticipated that stalking perpetrators will
exhibit lower levels of self-control than non-perpetrators. Similarly, because stalking
victims and perpetrators are often associated prior to the offense, it is anticipated that
victims of stalking will also report lower levels of self-control than non-victims.
For purposes of this study and subsequent research projects, an extensive survey
was created entitled "Family and Relationship Experiences and Attitudes among College
Students" (Fox, Robson, Gover, & Kaukinen, November 2005). This survey consists of
167 questions regarding topics such as stalking victimization and perpetration, family of
origin violence, dating violence victimization and perpetration, fear of crime, protective
and risk factors, attitudes toward women, risk-taking behaviors, and various demographic
questions. The survey was constructed specifically for college student samples and
includes previously validated scales and indexes such as the Revised Conflict Tactics
Scale II (CTS2) (Straus & Hamby, 1995), Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS)
(Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1973), Grasmick et al. (1993) low self-control scale, and
scales from the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) (Tjaden &
After receiving Institutional Review Board approval, the survey was administered
to college students at the University of Florida between August 2005 and December
2005. Permission was obtained from faculty teaching liberal arts and sciences courses to
administer surveys during class meetings. After receiving informed consent forms the
purpose of the research was explained to students. Students did not receive any rewards
for their participation in the research. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of the
survey questions, respondents were assured confidentiality in several ways. Participants
were instructed not to provide researchers with any identifying information (such as
name, student identification number, etc.) and were also given large envelopes for
purposes of concealing responses upon survey completion.
The current study aims to answer four research questions, including: (1) What
factors predict stalking victimization among college students? (2) Are stalking
victimization predictors invariant across gender? (3) What factors predict stalking
perpetration among college students? (4) Are stalking perpetration predictors invariant
The two dependent variables for this analysis are (1) stalking victimization and (2)
stalking perpetration. The beginning of the stalking victimization and perpetration
sections of the survey included similar survey instructions used in the National Violence
Against Women Survey (NVAWS):
The following section asks you about frightening or harassing things someone
may have done to you. Not including bill collectors, telephone solicitors, or other
sales people, please indicate if anyone, male or female, has ever done any of these
things to you. You may have experienced the following behaviors from strangers,
former boyfriends/girlfriends, or acquaintances.
Respondents were asked a series of questions about specific stalking victimization
behaviors such as: "Has anyone ever followed, watched or spied on you?" "Has anyone
ever stood outside your home, school, or workplace?" and "Has anyone ever sent
unsolicited letters, written correspondence, or unwanted emails?" (See survey in
Appendix B for the list of survey stalking behaviors). Because stalking is comprised of
unwanted and repeated behavior, respondents were then asked a crucial question: "Has
anyone ever done these things to you on more than one occasion?" Stalking
victimization (VICSTALK) is determined using this single indicator inquiring if the
stalking behaviors occurred twice or more. Stalking victimization was coded as a
dichotomous variable with '1' indicating 'Yes,' meaning victimization occurred and '0'
indicating 'No,' meaning no stalking victimization. A response of' 1' indicates repeated
Stalking perpetration behaviors were identical to victimization items while only
reversing the order of behavior initiation so directions inquired of the respondents if they
had personally initiated or engaged in any of the stalking behaviors against another
person. Example indicators include: "Have you ever showed up at places you had no
business being?" "Have you ever made unsolicited phone calls to someone?" and "Have
you ever vandalized someone's property or destroyed something they loved?" (See
survey in Appendix B for the list of survey stalking behaviors). Similar to that of
stalking victimization, analyses were also limited to respondents who indicated
perpetrating stalking behaviors on more than one occasion. Stalking perpetration
(PERSTALK) is measured using this single indicator "Have you ever done these things
to anyone on more than one occasion?" This dichotomous variable included response
options of'l' indicating 'Yes,' meaning perpetration occurred and '0' indicating 'No,'
meaning no stalking perpetration. A response of' 1' indicates repeated stalking
Variation among measures of stalking perpetration and victimization is unknown
due to the way in which the survey questioned respondents. For example, categorizing
respondents into groups of high/low victims or stalkers is not possible because the survey
1 Virtually all stalking definitions (among state and federal legislation and empirical research) require the
stalking behavior occurs repeatedly (twice or more) before officially classifying the behaviors as stalking.
did not measure variation in the number of times a respondent was victimized or
perpetrated stalking. The survey also did not examine variation in behaviors experienced
in a single incident. Respondents indicating stalking behaviors occurred more than once
were not asked how many times behaviors occurred. Although respondents were given
the opportunity to indicate which of the nine stalking behaviors they had experienced,
this measure cannot determine if they experienced each once (indicating a low-victim
category) or experienced each behavior a dozen times (indicating a high-victim category).
Due to the undetermined variation among the variables, stalking perpetration and
victimization were both dichotomized such that respondents are classified as victims or
non-victims and perpetrators or non-perpetrators.
Based on a review of prior literature, eleven independent variables are included in
this analysis. Five variables represent scales and summated indices specifically for the
current research. Listwise deletion was employed to trim out cases with missing values
on the outcomes and explanatory variables. Valid sample sizes ranged between 1,365
and 1,420, depending on the outcome (exact sample sizes are shown in the table notes).
The analysis used a single indicator to determine respondents' current residence status
(OFFCAMP) and consisted of the question "Where do you live?" The two response
options provided were on-campus and off-campus. This dichotomous variable was coded
as '1' for off-campus residence and '0' for on-campus residence.2
2 The 'OFFCAMP' measure does not differentiate between people living at home with their family of
origin or in an apartment-style residence. This variable, is unable to distinguish between students who live
off-campus due to higher socioeconomic status or due to higher class standing status, as some students are
likely to move off-campus as they age.
A single question was used to measure respondents' current relationship status:
"What is your current relational status?" Response options included the following: 'not
currently dating,' 'occasionally dating,' 'steady/exclusively dating,' 'engaged,' 'married,'
'divorced,' and 'other'. The 'ANYDATE' variable seeks to categorize respondents who
indicated they are currently dating. Therefore, responses of 'occasionally dating,'
'steady/exclusively dating,' and 'engaged,' were coded as '1' indicating involvement in a
dating relationship and responses of 'not currently dating,' 'married,' 'divorced,' and
'other' were coded as '0' indicating not in a dating relationship.3
Respondents' race was also measured using a single indicator. The question "What
is your race" was asked of all participants and response options included 'White, non-
Hispanic,' 'White, Hispanic,' 'Black or African American,' 'Asian,' 'Pacific Islander,'
'American Indian or Alaskan Native,' and 'Other.' The variable 'WHITE' was created
and dichotomized so that the 'White, non-Hispanic' was coded as '1' and all other races
were coded as '0.'
A variable for child abuse included eight indicators and was derived from questions
from the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale II (CTS) (Straus & Hamby, 1995). The CTS is
the most extensively used measure of child abuse (Caliso & Milner, 1992; Messman-
Moore & Long, 2000; O'Keefe, 1994). Respondents were asked questions such as
"When you were a child did any parent, stepparent, or guardian ever choke or attempt to
3 As mentioned earlier, prior research has found differences in stalking victimization and perpetration rates
among individuals in dating versus non-dating relationships (Fisher et al., 2002). The 'ANYDATE'
variable is mutually exclusive and classifies married and divorced relational statuses as '0.' This allows for
the 'ANYDATE' variable to identify individuals in a current dating relationship for purposes of
determining if being in a dating relationship is a risk factor for stalking perpetration or victimization. Only
1.1% of the current sample reported being either married or divorced. Because prior research focuses on
dating relationships and because the number of married or divorce respondents is so small, respondents
who are married or divorced are classified into the 'not dating' group.
drown you?" "When you were a child did any parent, stepparent, or guardian ever beat
you up?" and "When you were a child did any parent, stepparent, or guardian ever hit you
so hard that it left bruises or marks?" Response options for each of these eight questions
were 'yes' (coded as '1') and 'no' (coded as '0'). Responses to these eight questions
were used to create a scale entitled 'CH AB2,' which was recorded and dichotomized
such that a score of '1' indicates one or more experiences with child abuse and a score of
'0' indicates no experience with child abuse. A response of 'yes' to any scale item
received a scale score of '1,' indicating experience with at least one type of child abuse.
A response of 'no' to all items received a scale score of '0,' indicating no child abuse.
The range is 0-1 and scale reliability is .73.
Another aspect of exposure to violence within the family of origin was witnessing
violence between parents. Witnessing parental abuse was composed of two items.
Respondents were asked, "When you were a child, did you ever see your mother hit your
father?" and "When you were a child, did you ever see your father hit your mother?"
Response options were 'yes' (coded as '1') and 'no' (coded as '0'). Respondents
indicating witnessing parental abuse for one or both questions were coded as '1' and
respondents reporting never witnessing parental abuse were scored as '0.' This variable
was labeled as 'WITNESS2,' has a range of 0-1, and has a scale reliability of .57.
Alcohol use was measured with a single item that asked respondents: "In the past
year did you drink alcohol?" Response options were 'never,' 'once,' 'a few times,' and
'often.' Because 46% of respondents report drinking alcohol 'often' within the past year,
this variable was dichotomized such that 'never,' 'once,' and 'a few times,' are coded as
'0' and a response of 'often' is coded as '1.' This variable was labeled as 'ALCOHOL.'
Marijuana use was measured with a single item. Respondents were asked, "In the
past year did you use marijuana?" Response options were 'never,' 'once,' 'a few times,'
and 'often.' A frequency of this variable indicated that 68% of respondents report never
using marijuana within the past year, which indicated a natural break and, therefore,
responses were dichotomized so that 'never' is coded as '0' and a response of 'once,' 'a
few times,' or 'often' is coded as '1.' This variable was labeled as 'POT.'
Respondents' sex is measured by a single question, "What is your sex?" and
response options include only 'male' and 'female.' This variable was labeled as 'MALE'
and coded such that '1' represents male and '0' represents female.
The attitudes toward women measure is comprised of thirteen indicators derived
from the revised Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS) (Spence & Hahn, 1997). The
AWS has been used since the 1970s to measure attitudes toward women (Etaugh &
Spandikow, 1981; Parrott & Zeichner, 2003; Sherman & Spence, 1997). Questions
include statements such as, "Women should worry less about their rights and more about
becoming good wives and mothers," "A woman should not expect to go to exactly the
same places or to have quite the same freedom of action as a man," and "The intellectual
leadership of a community should be largely in the hands of men." Response options
include 'strongly agree,' 'agree,' 'disagree,' and 'strongly disagree.' For questions C2,
C3, C4, C6, C7, and C13 a response of 'strongly agree' was coded as '1,' 'agree' was
coded as '2,' 'disagree' was coded as '3,' and 'strongly disagree' was coded as '4.'
Other questions were reversed coded (questions Cl, C5, and C8 through C12) such that
'strongly agree' was coded as '4,' 'agree' was coded as '3,' 'disagree' was coded as '2,'
and 'strongly disagree' was coded as '1.' The thirteen attitudes toward women items
were combined into a summated index entitled 'ATTWOVMEN.' Scale reliability is .81.
Scale scores ranged from 2 to 38 whereas a higher scale score indicates a more traditional
attitude toward women and a lower scale score indicates more equal attitudes toward
The self-control measure is comprised of twenty-three indicators from Grasmick et
al.'s (1993) low self-control scale.4 This scale is commonly used to measure levels of
self-control (Baron, 2003; Piquero et al., 2004; Pratt & Cullen, 2000). Participants
responded to statements such as, "I often act on the spur of the moment without stopping
to think," "I sometimes find it exciting to do things for which I might get in trouble," and
"I lose my temper pretty easily." Responses are coded such that 'strongly agree' is coded
as '1,' 'agree' is coded as '2,' 'disagree' is coded as '3,' and 'strongly disagree' is coded
as '4.' The self-control items were combined into a scale in which the mean was
calculated and entitled 'SLFCONT2.' Scale reliability is .86. Response options were
summed to attain a total scale score and divided by total items (23) so overall scale scores
ranged from 1 to 4, such that lower scale scores indicate lower levels of self-control.
A sexual risk taking index was created from two indicators. Respondents were
asked "How old were you when you had sexual intercourse for the first time?" and
"During your life, how many people have you had sexual intercourse with?" Response
options for the first question included seven response options that corresponded to age
selections and included: 'I have never had sexual intercourse' (coded as '0'), 'eighteen or
4 The original self-control scale created by Grasmick et al. (1993) included twenty-four indicators. The
revised scale used in the present study includes twenty-three of the original indicators and omits one
question that states, 'I seem to have more energy and a greater need for activity than most other people my
age.' The current research followed prior research (Baron, 2003; Forde & Kennedy, 1997; Hay, 2001) and
uses Grasmick et al.'s (1993) scale with only twenty-three of the twenty-four item scale.
older' (coded as '1'), 'seventeen' (coded as '2'), 'sixteen' (coded as '3'), 'fifteen' (coded
as '4'), 'fourteen' (coded as '5'), and 'thirteen or younger' (coded as '6'). Similarly,
response options for the second question included: 'I have never had sexual intercourse'
(coded as '0'), '1 partner' (coded as '1'), '2 partners' (coded as '2'), '3 partners' (coded
as '3'), '4 partners' (coded as '4'), '5 partners' (coded as '5'), and '6 partners or more'
(coded as '6'). The two questions were summed and coded as a sexual risk taking index
(SEXRISK) and have a scale reliability of .81. Scale scores ranged from 0 to 12 whereas
a higher scale score indicates a higher level of sexual risk taking (meaning younger age at
first sexual intercourse and a higher number of total sexual partners).
Bivariate correlations were used to determine how variables are related in terms of
multicollinearity. Several statistical models were estimated in order to explore
relationships between the dependent variables, stalking perpetration and victimization,
and eleven independent variables. Separate analyses will be conducted for stalking
victimization and stalking perpetration. Logistic regressions will be used because both
dependent variables are dichotomous and because this study aims to predict the presence
of characteristics based on values of a set of predictor variables. Odds ratios will be used
to predict the probability for which participants are either stalking victims or perpetrators.
Logit regression models for stalking victimization and perpetration will be
estimated for the full sample. If gender has a significant influence on stalking
perpetration or victimization in the full sample models, the data will be split so that male
and female models can be estimated separately. The six models would include three for
victimization (full model, female model, and male model) and three for perpetration (full
model, female model, and male model). If the full model for either dependent variable
does not reveal gender differences, separate models of males and females will not be
Overall Sample Description
The sample includes 1,490 students and the overall response rate for the survey was
98% (see Table 5-1 below for frequencies and means of variables).1 Of the 1,490
respondents, 65% were female and 35% were male. The unequal gender distribution of
the sample reflects the unique gender composition in liberal arts and science courses
because there is a higher proportion of women than men seeking liberal arts and sciences
degrees. The majority of the sample was White (64.2%), which is representative of the
university's student population. Fourteen percent of the sample are Hispanic, 13%
African American, 5.3% Asian, .8 % Pacific Islander, .2% American Indian or Alaskan
Native, and 2.1% Other. The majority (62%) of students live off-campus and 59% of
respondents reported to be occasionally dating, exclusively dating, or engaged. The
respondents are relatively young as 35% of the sample is eighteen, 25% is nineteen, 19%
is twenty, and 22% is twenty-one or older. The average age of respondents is 19 years
old. Class standing closely mirrors age with 36% freshmen, 22% sophomores, 24%
juniors, and 18% seniors.
Approximately 29% of respondents indicated that they experienced childhood
abuse and 11% of respondents reported witnessing violence between parents during
1 The response rate was calculated by comparing the total number of completed surveys to the number of
students present during class on the day surveys were administered. The total number of students present
during survey administrations was 1,534 and a total of 44 students declined to participate, resulting in a
98% response rate.
childhood. Almost half of respondents indicated using alcohol during the past year
(46%). Fewer students reported using marijuana in the past year (33%). Respondents'
average scale score for sexual risk taking was 3.3 (Range = 0-12), the average attitudes
toward women scale score was 23 (Range = 2-38), and the average low self-control scale
score was 2.92 (Range = 1-4).
Table 5-1. Descriptive Statistics of Variables (Full Sample; N=1,490)
Variables Frequency (SD) Range
Male 34.6% 0-1
Freshman 35.9% 0-1
Sophomore 22% 0-1
Junior 24% 0-1
Senior 18.1% 0-1
White 64.2% 0-1
Hispanic 13.8% 0-1
African American 13% 0-1
Asian 5.3% 0-1
Pacific Islander .8% 0-1
American Indian/Alaskan Native .2% 0-1
Race-Other 2.1% 0-1
Live Off-Campus 61.5% 0-1
Dating Status 58.5% 0-1
Childhood Victimization 28.9% 0-1
Witness Parental Abuse 11.3% 0-1
Alcohol 46% 0-1
Table 5-1. Continued.
Variables Frequency (SD) Range
Marijuana 32.5% 0-1
Mean (SD) Range
Age 2.27 1.15 1-6
Sexual Risk Taking 3.30 3.36 0-12
Attitudes Toward Women 23.49 5.57 2-38
Low Self-Control 2.92 .38 1-4
Dependent Measures Frequency (SD) Range
Stalking Victimization 24.8% 0-1
Stalking Perpetration 6.9% 0-1
Characteristics of Stalking Victims
Results indicated that 25% of respondents (N = 347) have been victimized by
stalking.2 The majority of stalking victims (70%) are female (N = 242). Sixty-three
percent of stalking victims are White (non-Hispanic), 15% are African American, 14%
are Hispanic, 4% Asian, 1% Pacific Islander, .4% American Indian or Alaskan Native,
and 2.6% Other. The majority of stalking victims reside off-campus (64.8%) and are in a
dating relationship (66%). Respondents were asked to identify their relationship with
their stalker at the time of the offense. This question was not mutually exclusive and
2 These respondents indicated victimization of stalking according to the NVAWS definition of stalking
wherein individuals experienced two or more of the nine frightening or harassing stalking behaviors listed
(see survey in Appendix B for the nine stalking indicators).
permitted individuals stalked by more than one person to identify multiple perpetrators.
Stalking victims report being stalked by an acquaintance (17%), former intimate dating
partner (15%), stranger (12%), friend (8%), and current intimate dating partner (2%).
Almost 5% were not sure of the identity of their stalker.
Characteristics of Stalking Perpetrators
Results indicated that 7% (N=100) of the sample report perpetrating stalking
behaviors. Over half (58%) of stalking perpetrators are female (N=58). Sixty-one percent
of stalking perpetrators are White (non-Hispanic), 11% are African American, 18% are
Hispanic, 5% Asian, 1% Pacific Islander, no American Indian or Alaskan Native, and 3%
Other. The majority of stalking perpetrators reside off-campus (60%) and are in a dating
relationship (58%). Respondents were asked to identify their relationship with their
victim at the time of the offense. This question was not mutually exclusive and permitted
individuals to identify multiple victims. Stalking perpetrators report stalking either a
former intimate dating partner (7%), a friend (7%), acquaintance (3%), current intimate
dating partner (3%), and stranger (2%).
Bivariate correlations were used to assess relationships among variables and to
specifically determine ifmulticollinearity problems were present in these data. Table 5-2
below provides Pearson's correlation coefficients for the dependent variables (stalking
victimization and stalking perpetration) and all eleven independent variables. Although
determining the point at which multicolinearity exists varies among researchers, many
classify values of .6 or higher as levels warranting concern. No evidence of
multicollinearity was found among the variables of interest (the highest Pearson
correlation value is .431).
Table 5-2. Corr
elation Matrix (Full Sample; N=1,490)
Stalking Stalking Male Off- Anydate White
Victim Perp Campus
Child Low Alcohol Marijuana
Sexual Risk Witness Attitudes toward
Taking Abuse Women
.034 -.010 .056*
p=.200 p=.703 p=.030
.089** -.003 -.052* .066*
p=.001 p=.918 p=.046 p=.011
-.013 -.020 .036 -.004 .067**
p=.615 p=.435 p=.165 p=.883 p=.010
.029 .002 -.013 -.226**
p=.260 p .939 p .613 p=.000
-.052* -.180** -.15 -.012 .057* -.142**
p=.049 p=.000 p .961 p .649 p=.028 p .000
Sexual Risk Taking
.109** .143** .171** .176** -.043 -.166**
p=.000 p=.000 p=.000 p=.000 p=.099 p=.000
.065* .055* .130** .144** .107** .079** .001 -.164** .431**
p=.016 p .036 p=.000 p=.000 p=.000 p .000 p .966 p .000 p .000
.120** .053* .079** .192** .269** -.007 .049 -.123** .346** .355**
p=.000 p .044 p .002 p=.000 p=.000 p .780 p=.064 p .000 p .000 p=.000
.038 .005 .065* -.100** .253** -.066* -.036 .018
p=.140 p=.853 p=.012 p .000 p .000 p=.012 p=.166 p=.483
-.043 -.007 .383** .383** -.046 .036 -.034 -.229** .002 .016
p=.106 p=.785 p=.000 p=.000 p=.076 p=.172 p=.192 p .000 p .925 p=.533
p=..626 p .236
The full sample correlation matrix indicates that several independent variables are
significantly associated with both dependent variables (stalking perpetration and
victimization). Specifically, experiencing child abuse, reporting low levels of self-
control, using alcohol often during the past year, using marijuana in the past year,
engaging in sexual risk taking, and witnessing violence between parents are significantly
associated with both stalking victimization and perpetration. One additional independent
variable, being in a dating relationship, was significantly related to stalking victimization
only. All significant Pearson correlations were in the expected directions. Interestingly,
the bivariate correlations between gender and stalking perpetration and gender and
stalking victimization were not significant. Therefore, these results indicate that
predictors of stalking victimization and perpetration may not vary by gender. These
results are possibly an initial indication that several of these measures may actually
predict stalking perpetration and victimization, but it cannot be determined with certainty
if this is the case until multivariate models are estimated that control for the effects of
Table 5-3 below presents the logistic regression results from the full sample model
for stalking perpetration. Two independent variables were found to have a significant
impact on stalking perpetration. Individuals who experienced child abuse are
significantly more likely to perpetrate stalking compared to individuals who did not
experience child abuse (B = .696, p > .01). In fact, the findings indicate that experiencing
childhood abuse increased the odds of stalking perpetration by 100%. In addition, those
who report consuming alcohol often were also significantly more likely to report stalking
perpetration (B = .610, p > .05). Specifically, drinking alcohol often increased the odds
of stalking perpetration by 84%. Stalking perpetration was not significantly influenced
by race, self-control, attitudes toward women, residing off-campus, being in a dating
relationship, witnessing parental abuse, engaging in sexual risk taking, or using marijuana
during the past year. Because gender did not have a significant influence on stalking
perpetration in the full sample model, split models were not estimated for stalking
perpetration among males and females.
Table 5-3. Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Perpetration (Full Sample; N=
Variable B SE Sig. EXP (B)
Male .230 .246 .350 1.258
Offcamp -.228 .224 .309 .796
Anydate -.165 .225 .463 .848
White -.135 .229 .554 .873
Witness Abuse .505 .289 .080 1.657
Child victimization .696** .230 .002 2.005
Self-Control -.206 .292 .481 .814
Attwomen -.013 .021 .549 .987
Alcohol .610* .252 .016 1.840
Pot .101 .249 .686 1.106
Sexrisk .027 .034 .426 1.027
Table 5-4 below presents the results of the logistic regression model for the full
sample for stalking victimization. Four variables have a significant influence on
victimization: gender, childhood victimization, self-control, and sexual risk taking.
Gender had a negative significant influence on victimization, which indicates that males
are less likely than females to be victimized (B = -.304, p > .05). Specifically, being
male decreases the odds of stalking victimization by 26%. This finding indicates the
need to estimate models separately for males and females to determine if predictors of
victimization vary by gender (findings presented in tables 5-5 and 5-6). In addition, child
abuse was positively and significantly related to stalking victimization (B = .442, p >
.01). Therefore, respondents who experienced abuse during childhood were more likely
to be victims of stalking than respondents who did not experience child abuse.
Experiencing child abuse increased the odds of stalking victimization by 56%. Findings
also reveal that respondents with higher self-control are significantly less likely to be
stalking victims compared to respondents with lower levels of self-control (B = -.393, p >
.05). In fact, having higher self-control decreased the odds of stalking victimization by
33%. Respondents who reported engaging in sexual risk taking behaviors are
significantly more likely to be victimized by stalking compared to respondents who did
not report engaging in sexual risk taking behaviors (B = .055, p > .05). Engaging in risky
sexual behavior increases the odds of stalking victimization by 6%. No statistically
significant influences were found for race, attitudes toward women, residing off-campus,
being in a dating relationship, witnessing parental abuse, consuming alcohol often, or
using marijuana within the past year on stalking victimization.
Table 5-4. Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Full Sample; N=
Variable B SE Sig. EXP (B)
Male -.304* .155 .049 .738
Offcamp .079 .137 .565 1.082
Anydate .266 .139 .055 1.305
White .010 .140 .941 1.010
Witness Abuse .329 .197 .095 1.390
Child victimization .442** .145 .002 1.556
Self-Control -.393* .180 .029 .675
Attwomen -.014 .013 .299 .986
Alcohol .128 .151 .395 1.137
Pot .064 .154 .677 1.066
Sexrisk .055** .021 .008 1.057
Separate logistic regression models were estimated for male and female stalking
victimization. Table 5-5 below presents the findings for female stalking victimization.
Only one variable was found to have a significant influence on stalking victimization
among females. Females who witnessed violence between parents during childhood are
more likely to be victims of stalking compared to females who did not witness parental
abuse (B = .481, p > .05). Specifically, witnessing violence between parents increased
the odds of stalking victimization by 62% for females. Results reveal two variables
significantly predict male stalking victimization. Table 5-6 below presents the findings
from male stalking victimization models. Male respondents who experience childhood
abuse were significantly more likely to be stalking victims compared to male respondents
who did not experience childhood victimization (B = .944, p > .01). Experiencing
childhood victimization increases the odds of stalking victimization by 157% for males.
Furthermore, male respondents who report engaging in sexually risky behaviors are
significantly more likely to be stalking victims compared to male respondents who do not
engage in sexually risky behavior (B = .072, p > .05). Specifically, higher scores of
sexual risk taking increase the odds of stalking victimization by 7% for males.
Table 5-5. Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Females Only; N=
Variable B SE Sig. EXP (B)
Offcamp .099 .163 .543 1.105
Anydate .230 .171 .178 1.259
White .174 .170 .308 1.190
Witness Abuse .481* .244 .049 1.618
Child victimization .237 .180 .188 1.267
Self-Control -.396 .212 .062 .673
Attwomen -.009 .017 .609 .991
Alcohol .096 .181 .593 1.101
Pot .125 .189 .508 1.134
Sexrisk .050 .026 .058 1.051
Table 5-6. Logistic Regression Predicting Stalking Victimization (Males Only; N = 458)
Variable B SE Sig. EXP (B)
Offcamp .020 .259 .937 1.021
Anydate .390 .247 .114 1.477
White -.354 .252 .160 .702
Witness Abuse .055 .349 .874 1.057
Child victimization .944** .255 .000 2.570
Self-Control -.413 .345 .230 .661
Attwomen -.021 .022 .349 .980
Alcohol .156 .278 .575 1.169
Pot -.122 .271 .653 .885
Sexrisk .072* .035 .042 1.074
Overall, the results from the logistic regression models indicate several significant
relationships between predictor factors and stalking victimization and perpetration.
Interestingly, exposure to abuse during childhood (either witnessing or experiencing
abuse) is the single most predictive factor of stalking in every model (perpetration, full
victimization, female victimization, and male victimization). It is also remarkable to note
that, with the exception of gender differences, all other significant variables represent
risky or dangerous behaviors. Childhood abuse, sexual risk taking, witnessing parental
abuse, exhibiting low self-control, and using alcohol often are all factors that are
associated with many other negative behaviors and consequences.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Famous early cases of celebrity stalking provoked the first anti-stalking legislation
in 1990, followed by a sudden outbreak of new stalking laws for all fifty states as well as
several other countries. Debates remain regarding legislation and definitions of stalking;
however, most research adopts a general definition of stalking very similar to that of the
NVAWS, which includes repetitive intrusive behaviors that are unwanted, frightening,
and threatening to the victim. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that
significantly predict stalking perpetration and victimization and to determine if these
factors vary across gender. Of the 1,490 college students sampled, 25% report being
victimized by stalking and almost 7% report perpetrating stalking. These prevalence
rates, like most prevalence rates from college samples, are much higher than rates
reported by the general public (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Findings from the current
research are consistent with previous research of stalking among college students that
reports high levels of perpetration and victimization. Prior research identifies between
6% and 27% of college samples report victimization (Logan et al., 2000; McCreedy &
Dennis, 1996) and between 1% and 8% report perpetration (Fremouw et al., 1997;
Haugaard & Seri, 2003). The fact that one-quarter of the current study's sample has been
stalked and 7% admit to being stalkers indicates that this is a phenomenon of concern on
college campuses. This reveals a large gap between the proportion of students who
report victimization and perpetration. The large gap between reported victims and
perpetrators indicates the possibility that stalkers are either less likely to attend college or
more reluctant to admit to stalking.
Findings from the current study's analysis of risk factors for stalking reveal
interesting similarities and differences in comparison with prior research. Gender
differences were found for stalking victimization whereas females are at a significantly
higher risk than males for being victims of stalking. This discovery contributes to prior
research yielding findings that indicate females are more likely to be stalking victims
(McCreedy & Dennis, 1996). On the contrary, some prior research failed to find gender
differences for stalking victimization (Cupach & Spitzberg, 2000). The findings of the
current study also indicate no gender differences were found for stalking perpetration.
Although this finding is supported by prior research (Dye & Davis, 2003;
Langhinrichsen-Rohling et al, 2000), other research indicates males are significantly
more likely to perpetrate stalking (Bjerregaard, 2000; Logan et al., 2000). The finding of
no gender difference for stalking perpetration in the current study illustrates stalking is no
longer a crime thought to be committed exclusively by males.
Results indicate individuals who report drinking alcohol often within the past year
are significantly more likely to be perpetrators of stalking. This finding is similar to that
of prior research (Logan et al., 2000; Mustaine & Tewskbury, 1999). Interestingly,
almost half of the sample (46%) indicated drinking often although only 22% of the
sample is of legal age to drink (21 or older). The link between alcohol and stalking may
indicate that individuals who are likely to drink more heavily than others, and especially
those who are likely to drink illegally, are more likely to engage in the criminal behavior
Findings also illustrate a strong positive relationship between sexual risk taking
behavior and stalking victimization. Consistent with Haugaard and Seri (2003),
respondents who engage in risky sexual behavior (experiencing sexual intercourse at a
younger age and having more sexual partners) are at a higher level of risk for being
stalked. The current findings indicate that individuals more willing to place themselves
at a greater risk sexually may be more likely to take other risks, such as placing
themselves in situations where they might encounter potential stalking perpetrators.
Of the risk factors that are unique to this analysis, several important findings are
revealed. The results reveal that experiencing childhood victimization significantly
increases the probability of becoming a stalking victim or perpetrator during college.
Child abuse is known to have many negative outcomes and the findings of this study
indicate that stalking victimization can now be added to the lengthy list of harmful
behavior associated with childhood victimization. Attachment theory was not tested in
the current study, however this finding of childhood abuse as a predictive factor for
stalking would not surprise attachment theorists. This finding is in line with the work of
attachment theorists such that early attachments with caregivers (whether they be positive
or negative) remain relatively stable over the life course. Therefore, individuals who
experience abuse during childhood may be more likely to form negative attachments with
guardians at an early age and continue the cycle of violence. In fact, social learning
theory may be effectively applied to explain the phenomenon of childhood abuse victims'
later exposure to crime. According to social learning theory, individuals are conditioned,
or socialized, by parental guardians and peers to engage in certain behaviors (Akers,
1977). Further, individuals learn to behave violently or criminally from socialization
experiences early in life (Akers, 1977; Sutherland, 1939). Therefore, it is likely that
children who are abused develop emotionally and psychologically damaging
manifestations of their abuse. It can be speculated that some individuals exposed to
childhood violence may be more susceptible to further victimization (i.e., stalking).
Furthermore, findings indicate that witnessing violence between parents significantly
predicts stalking victimization, but for females only. This finding, similar to that of child
abuse, seems to indicate that respondents who observed violence among parents during
childhood might have socially learned that violence is normal. Individuals who have
been victimized (by either witnessing or experiencing abuse) may be more likely to
become a repeat victim, which is often called the cycle of victimization. Dumas,
Margolin, and John (1994) found that witnessing parental violence during childhood is
associated with males perpetrating abuse and females victimization of abuse later in life.
It is possible, then, that individuals exposed to abuse early in life will enter a cycle of
Findings show self-control is significantly associated with stalking victimization.
Respondents with lower self-control are significantly more likely to be victims of
stalking. Prior research also identifies low self-control as a risk factor for criminal
victimization (Schreck, 1999; Steward et al., 2004). Findings from the current study not
only support the discoveries from these recent and innovative studies, but also add
support for a new application of Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of
crime. The general theory of crime has never before been applied to the crime of stalking
and this analysis yielded interesting findings. The current study finds no support for the
general theory of crime's application to stalking perpetration, but offers new support for
the theory's application to stalking victimization. Findings indicate that individuals
reporting lower self-control are more likely to be victims (not perpetrators) of stalking.
According to Grasmick et al. (1993), individuals with low self-control are more likely to
be impulsive, inactive, self-centered, and risk seeking. It is logical, then, that individuals
with lower self-control are more likely to place themselves in riskier situations (perhaps
in closer proximity to stalkers).
There are several limitations associated with the current study that may somewhat
limit generalizability. First, the sample is comprised of college students who are
primarily female (65%) and White (64%). Furthermore, participants were surveyed from
liberal arts and sciences courses. Findings may differ if sampling students from other
disciplines, the general population, or by including an equal proportion of participants
across gender and race. The second limitation of this study is the restricted capability of
the survey measures. Originally, the "Family and Relationship Experiences and Attitudes
among College Students" survey (Fox et al., 2005) was intended to capture a wide variety
of college student behaviors, attitudes, and experiences. The survey was not limited to
only measuring specific stalking behaviors. Because this survey was not created solely
with stalking in mind, the measure is limited in the quantity and breadth of stalking-
More specific limitations of the current study involve the construction of some
variables. Alcohol use was significantly associated with stalking perpetration, however it
is impossible to determine how 'often' is 'often.' Perhaps a clear distinction between
drinking frequently and drinking to excess would alleviate this uncertainty. Although the
measure of living off-campus was not associated with the perpetration or victimization of
stalking, this measure might be better suited as a series of questions first inquiring if
students reside on- or off-campus and then asking where and with whom they live. The
current measure inquires only of on- or off-campus status and, therefore, does not yield
information as to what type of residence (apartment, dormitory, house, fraternity/sorority
house, etc.) or if participants live alone, with roommates, or family members. Living off-
campus may be a sign of higher socioeconomic status (as off-campus housing is typically
more costly than on-campus housing) or higher class standing (as juniors/seniors may be
more likely to move away from campus). Living off-campus may also be a result of
many University of Florida students receiving free tuition and having more money to
spend on other expenses, such as housing.
The scale measuring witnessing violence between parents has a reliability score of
.57. This scale was comprised of two questions inquiring if respondents had ever
witnessed their father hit their mother or witnessed their mother hit their father. In the
earlier survey instructions for the section of "Family of Origin Violence," participants
were asked to respond to questions about their male and female guardians. This enabled
respondents to consider their experiences with caregivers (such as a step-parent or other
guardian) other than their biological mother and/or father. These instructions were not
reiterated when participants were asked to respond to witnessing parental abuse
questions. For the witnessing parental abuse questions, respondents were asked to
answer 'yes' or 'no' to the questions "When you were a child, did you ever see your
father hit your mother?" and "When you were a child, did you ever see your mother hit
your father?" Therefore, respondents may have forgotten or misunderstood that they
were to answer the questions about witnessing violence between parents while
considering the abusive behavior of their primary guardians (perhaps not their mother or
father). Also, the survey responses of 'yes' and 'no' did not allow for respondents to
indicate if they had grown up in a single parent home. Consequently, respondents may
have been forced to indicate that they had not witnessed their mother hit their father, even
if they did not know their mother or if their mother had never been part of the family.
Furthermore, participants may have responded that they did not witness their father hit
their mother, when, in fact, they saw their mother's new husband or boyfriend had
physically abused their mother. Had these limitations for measurement of witnessing
violence between parents been corrected and clarified, significant findings for stalking
perpetration and witnessing parental abuse may have been found.
Measurement of the dependent variables (stalking victimization and perpetration)
also had limitations. Analyses were unable to determine variation among perpetration or
victimization given the fact that respondents were only asked to reply to the question:
"Has anyone done any of these things to you on more than one occasion?" Information
as to how many times one has been a victim or perpetrator of stalking is unavailable.
Therefore, victims or perpetrators were not divided into groups of 'high,' 'medium,' and
'low' depending on number of times victimized or perpetrated. Also, respondents were
not questioned as to the duration of the stalking episode. Variation among duration
would also have been useful for placing victims or perpetrators into ordinal categories.
Although the survey does inquire of respondent's experiences with nine particular
stalking behaviors, this is not an adequate representation of the degree to which one is a
victim or perpetrator. For example, a victim may have indicated experiencing all nine
stalking behaviors, but may have only experienced each behavior once over the course of
a week. Another victim may have indicated experiencing only one or two of the nine
stalking behaviors, but may have endured those stalking behaviors for months or years.
Therefore it is impossible to determine the severity of the crime by analyzing only the
number of stalking behaviors respondents have experienced or perpetrated. Considering
the measures used in the current study, it is also not possible to determine how many
different stalkers a victim has had or how many victims each stalker has stalked. This,
too, would have been valuable information needed to determine the severity of the
stalking and to classify victims and perpetrators. The measurement of stalking is also
limited due to the fact that the survey requires respondents to reply to their experiences
with only nine stalking behaviors. Therefore, if a respondent had been stalked before, but
by different means other than any of the nine listed behaviors, they would not be
recognized as a victim of stalking for purposes of this research. It is presumed the
number of victims unidentified due to the limits of the survey questions is very small due
to the fact that the nine stalking survey items were broad enough to include most
incidences of stalking.
Recommendations for future research would include retesting the same variables
used in the present analysis along with the mentioned changes with college and general
public samples to strengthen the predictability of stalking risk factors. Future tests of the
effects of child abuse and attitudes toward women on stalking are specifically needed to
compare with the findings of this study. Future research would also benefit from
introducing untested factors into an analysis of stalking to determine their predictability.
Additional theoretical tests, both retests of the theories previously applied to stalking and
theories that have not yet been tested, are especially needed in future research. A retest
of the theoretical predictive power of self-control on stalking perpetration and
victimization is much needed. A very recent trend within the stalking literature and
legislation seems to focus on or, at the very least includes, measures of cyberstalking.
One of nine questions in the current study inquired of cyberstalking behavior (unwanted
emails), however it is apparent that sending unwanted emails is a limited element of
cyberstalking behaviors and future research would certainly benefit from questioning
respondents about a multitude of cyberstalking behaviors.1 Considering the level of
exposure and reliance upon electronic communication in today's world, a further interest
in the realm of cyberstalking might identify the most common cyberstalking behavior or
examining the rate at which perpetrators employ electronic means of harassment.
Furthermore, future stalking research may benefit from not only inquiring if
respondents have experienced specific stalking behaviors more than once, but also by
directly asking if the respondent is a victim/perpetrator of stalking. Most prior research
has traditionally either provided respondents with a definition of stalking and inquired of
specific behaviors or has allowed the respondent to independently conceptualize the
meaning of stalking and answer based on their own perceptions of the definition of
stalking. This proposed approach of incorporating both methods seems to combine both
strategies used by researchers and may yield interesting differences between those who
are legally perpetrators/victims and those who are perceived perpetrators/victims.2
1 Other cyberstalking behaviors might include: monitoring online purchases, accounts, or personal
information; covertly obtaining information; hacking into emails or other personal accounts; sending
unwanted text messages or instant messages; and posting harassing comments on personal or public
2 With data from the NVAWS, Tjaden et al. (2000) compared stalking victimization from both legal and
victim perspectives, the only study found to date that compares both types of reports of stalking.
Policy changes are needed to reduce the crime of stalking. Policy implications
offered based on this research should be interpreted with caution due to generalizability
issues of the sample. It is certainly possible that the University of Florida is a unique
population and future research should first determine if the same risk variables predict
stalking perpetration and victimization before implementing policy changes. Policy
makers should first address the inconsistencies in legal definitions of stalking across
states. As discussed in the review of stalking legislation, states vary considerably as to
the elements needed to constitute the crime of stalking has been committed and states
also differ as to the severity of the criminal charge and punishment. Melton (2000)
advocates standardizing and increasing criminal charges across states to felonies (not
misdemeanors) for stalking perpetrators. Several researchers state that police officers
should express more concern over the crime of stalking (Fisher et al., 2002; National
Institute of Justice, 1996; Melton, 2000). Policy makers should allocate additional funds
to law enforcement agencies and organizations that aim to protect and assist victims of
stalking. With additional resources, law enforcement agencies will be better equipped to
offer police officers with supplemental training designed to teach ways to recognize and
reduce stalking as well as offering victims help and appropriate advice.
Findings from the present study point toward specific policy implications that
attempt to prevent stalking perpetration and provide resources for stalking victims. It is
important to note that exposure to abuse during childhood (either witnessing or
experiencing abuse) is found to be the only risk factor predictive of stalking in every
model (perpetration for the full model and victimization for full model, female model,
and male model). Results indicate individuals exposed to abuse during childhood are
significantly more likely to be stalking victims and perpetrators. Although policy makers
and society are well aware by now that child abuse occurs, it is important that they be
reminded of the seriousness and negative consequences associated with the abuse of
children. Policy implications for the identification and reduction of child abuse should
include mandatory and regular training for individuals that work with children (such as
teachers and day care workers). Although teachers are educated in identifying typical
warning signs of child abuse, additional and regular training is needed to ensure teachers
can appropriately approach students about their suspicions and report such suspicions to
the proper authorities. Teachers (primarily in elementary K-12 grades) should openly
teach students about appropriate and inappropriate parent-child interactions and
encourage children to talk to them or others if they are experiencing abuse at home.
Additionally, children might benefit from visits from the school counselor to speak on the
subject of child abuse. These visits would educate children as to the crime of child abuse
and encourage children to approach the counselor if needed. Furthermore, police and
social services organizations should be allotted additional resources to investigate
reported instances of child abuse. Some of these policy recommendations have been
implemented but are not enforced or regularly practiced. Combating the occurrence of
child abuse may reduce stalking victimization and perpetration.
Findings from the current study reveal individuals who use alcohol often are
significantly more likely to perpetrate stalking. Policy recommendations aimed to reduce
alcohol consumption might more successfully target younger individuals (such as high
school and college students) who are likely to begin experimenting with alcohol.
Campus alcohol coalitions may require additional funding in order to adequately send a
message that drinking alcohol to excess can have negative criminal consequences (in
addition to negative health consequences).
Policy implications designed to address the finding of low self-control among
stalking victims may be best targeted to parents of young children. Classes or resources
available to new or expecting parents may better prepare them to encourage high levels of
self-control early in their children's lives. Children who learn to be impulsive, inactive,
self-centered, risk seeking, who strive only for simple tasks, and who easily loose their
temper are more likely to exhibit lower levels of self-control. Parents who actively
combat these destructive habits and behaviors may counteract their children's likelihood
of low self-control.
Results from this study indicated that victims of stalking were significantly more
likely to engage in sexual risk taking (experiencing sexual intercourse at a younger age
and having more intimate partners). Policy suggestions designed to decrease the
proportion of individuals engaging in sexual risk taking behaviors should focus on the
role of educators. Schoolteachers naturally influence their students and should candidly
discuss the consequences of premature sexual behavior. Lectures of this sort should be
directed toward older elementary students, junior high/middle school students, and high
school students alike since many students are exposed to sexual behavior at young ages.
In addition to classroom lectures on safe sexual behavior for students, schools should also
strive to teach parents the importance of talking to their children about safe sexual
conduct. These policy suggestions place more responsibility on schools and teachers
because the school may be the only exposure many children get outside of the home and
it is important to educate as many children as possible about risky sexual behavior.
Traditionally, parents and schools have been very reluctant to assign schools the
responsibility of educating children about topics regarding sexuality. Perhaps in the
future policy makers, educators, and parents can reach an agreement that will allow
educators to impart some level of guidance to students on sexual risk taking behaviors.
Again, these identified policy implications should be considered with caution as research
investigating the reliability of predictive factors of stalking perpetration and victimization
are in developmental stages.
Overall, the results of the present study demonstrate potential for future research to
successfully identify risk factors predictive of stalking perpetration and victimization.
This study found child abuse and alcohol use to be significantly associated with the
perpetration of stalking. Individuals who report childhood victimization, low self-
control, and sexual risk taking are significantly more likely to be victimized by stalking.
Results also indicate a gender difference among stalking victims and confirm that females
who witness child abuse are more likely to be stalking victims whereas males who
experience child abuse and sexual risk taking are more likely to be stalking victims.
Interestingly, findings reveal that exposure to violence during childhood (witnessing or
experiencing abuse) is the only factor predictive of both stalking perpetration and
victimization. Stalking is a serious crime that demands serious attention from law
enforcement agencies, public policy makers, and society. Given the damaging social
implications of ignoring the crime of stalking, law enforcement agencies, public policy
makers, and researchers should continue to devote time and resources to the prevention of
POTENTIAL STALKING BEHAVIORS
Sending unsolicited letters
Sending unsolicited written correspondence
Sending unwanted emails
Sending unwanted text messages
Sending unwanted instant messages
Sending unwanted pager calls
Leaving unwanted messages
Leaving unwanted gifts in places such as home, office, school, etc.
Leaving unwanted items
Standing outside places such as home, office, school, etc.
Showing up in places with no business being there
Vandalizing property or valuables
Threatening behavior (verbal or nonverbal)
Physically threatening behavior
Initiating or escalating unwanted romantic behaviors
Intruding in interactions
Covertly obtaining information
Intruding on friends/family
Intruding on victims family/friends
Hacking into emails, accounts, or personal information
Seeking employment at victim's work
University of Florida
An Investigation of Family and Relationship Experiences
And Attitudes Among College Students
DEMOGRAPHICS SECTION A
Please answer the following questions about your background.
Circle the number that corresponds to the answer that you select.
Al What is your sex?
A2 What is your age?
1 18 years old
2 19 years old
3 20 years old
4 21 or older
A3 What is your class standing?
A4 What type of household did you mostly live in while you grow up?
1 I lived with my two biological parents
2 I lived with a single parent
3 I lived with a parent and a stepparent
4 I lived with adoptive parents
5 Other relatives (grandparents, aunt/uncle, siblings, etc.)
A5 Where do you live?
1 on campus
2 off campus
A6 What is your current relational status?
1 Not currently Dating
2 Occasionally Dating
3 Steady/Exclusively Dating
A7 How often do you see the person you are dating?
1 Not currently dating
2 A few times a year
3 Once or twice a month
4 Once a week
5 Twice a week
6 Three or more times a week
A 8 Are you currently living with the person you are dating?
3 I am not currently dating someone
A9 What is your race?
1 White, non-Hispanic
2 White, Hispanic
3 Black or African-American
5 Pacific Islander
6 American Indian or Alaskan Native
FAMILY OF ORIGIN VIOLENCE SECTION B
Now we are going to ask you some questions about violence you may have experienced as a child. Think
back to your childhood for how often each of the following behaviors occurred. If your mother or father
did not raise you, please answer the questions about the person who did raise you.
When you were a child did any parent, stepparent or guardian ever... Yes No
B1 Throw something at you that could hurt you? 1 2
B2 Push, grab, or shove you? 1 2
B3 Pull your hair? 1 2
B4 Slap or hit you? 1 2
B5 Kick or bite you? 1 2
B6 Choke or attempt to drown you? 1 2
B7 Hit you with some object? (not including spanking) 1 2
B8 Beat you up? 1 2
B9 Punish you with a belt, board, cord, or other hard object? (not including spanking) 1 2
B10 Hit you so hard that it left bruises or marks? 1 2
B11 Touched you in a sexual way when you did not want that to happen? 1 2
B12 Hurt you in a sexual way? 1 2
B13 When you were a child, did you ever see your father hit your mother?
B14 When you were a child, did you ever see your mother hit your father?
B15 When you were a child, did any parent, stepparent, or guardian ever spank you as a form of
ATTITUDES TOWARD WOMEN-SECTION C
The next set of questions asks you about your opinions and attitudes about women. Please remember that
this is a confidential survey and your answers can't be linked to you. Please answer the questions honestly.
C)< < C) C)
C1 Swearing and obscenity are more repulsive in the speech of a woman 1 2 3 4
than of a man.
C2 Under modem economic conditions with women being active outside 1 2 3 4
the home, men should share in household tasks such as washing dishes and
doing the laundry.
C3 It is insulting to women to have the "obey" clause remain in the 1 2 3 4
C4 A woman should be free as a man to propose marriage. 1 2 3 4
C5 Women should worry less about their rights and more about becoming 1 2 3 4
good wives and mothers.
C6 Women earning as much as their dates should bear equally the expense 1 2 3 4
when they go out together.
C7 Women should assume their rightful place in business and all the 1 2 3 4
professions along with men.
C8 A woman should not expect to go to exactly the same places or to have 1 2 3 4
quite the same freedom of action as a man.
C9 Sons in a family should be given more encouragement to go to college 1 2 3 4
C10 In general, the father should have greater authority than the mother in 1 2 3 4
the bringing up of children.
C11 The intellectual leadership of a community should be largely in the 1 2 3 4
hands of men.
C12 There are many jobs in which men should be given preference over 1 2 3 4
women in being hired or promoted.
C13 Women should be given equal opportunity with men for 1 2 3 4
apprenticeship in the various trades.
STALKING VICTIMIZATION SECTION D
The following section asks you about frightening or harassing things someone may have done to you.
Not including bill collectors, telephone solicitors, or other sales people, please indicate if anyone, male or
female, has ever done any of these things to you. You may have experienced the following behaviors from
strangers, former boyfriends/girlfriends, or acquaintances.
HAS ANYONE EVER...
D1 Followed, watched, or spied on you 1 2
D2 Sent you unsolicited letters, written correspondence, or unwanted emails 1 2
D3 Made unwanted phone calls to you 1 2
D4 Left unwanted messages for you 1 2
D5 Stood outside your home, school, or workplace 1 2
D6 Showed up at places you were even though he or she had no business being there 1 2
D7 Left unwanted items for you to find 1 2
D8 Tried to communicate with you in other ways against your will 1 2
D9 Vandalized your property or destroyed something you loved 1 2
If you answered YES to any of the above questions, GO TO QUESTION #D10-D13
If you answered NO to any of the above questions, GO TO QUESTION #D14
D10 What was your relationship with the persons) who did these things to you...
1 Your current boyfriend or girlfriend
2 An ex boyfriend or girlfriend
3 A Friend
4 An Acquaintance
5 A stranger
6 Don't know
Dl1 Has anyone done any of these things to you on more than one occasion?
D12 Have you ever reported any of the above behaviors to the police/authorities?
If Yes, go to D13
If No, go to D14
D13 How satisfied were you with the way the police/authorities handled the situation?
1 Very Satisfied
4 Very Dissatisfied
The following section asks you about frightening or harassing things that you may have done to someone
else. Not including bill collectors, telephone solicitors, or other sales people, please indicate if have done
any of these things to another person including strangers, former boyfriends/girlfriends, or acquaintances.
HAVE YOU EVER...
D14 Followed, watched, or spied on someone 1 2
D15 Sent unsolicited letters, written correspondence, or unwanted emails to someone 1 2
D16 Made unsolicited phone calls to someone 1 2
D17 Left unwanted messages for someone 1 2
D18 Stood outside the home, school, or workplace of someone 1 2
D19 Showed up at places you had no business being 1 2
D20 Left unwanted items for someone to find 1 2
D21 Tried to communicate with someone in other ways against their will 1 2
D22 Vandalized someone's property or destroyed something they loved 1 2
If you answered YES to any of the above questions, GO TO QUESTION #D23-D24
If you answered NO to any of the above questions, GO TO QUESTION #El
D23 What was your relationship with the persons) you did these things to...
(MARK ALL THAT APPLY)
1 Your current boyfriend or girlfriend
2 An ex boyfriend or girlfriend
3 A Friend
4 An Acquaintance
5 A stranger
6 Don't know
D24 Did you do any of these things to someone on more than one occasion?
FEAR OF VIOLENCE SECTION E
Campus safety is an important issue to students. The next set of questions asks you about your fear of
crime and things you might do to protect yourself.
El Do you think personal safety for women in this country has improved since you were a child,
gotten worse since you were a child, or stayed about the same?
2 Gotten worse
3 Stayed about the same
4 Don't know
E2 How concerned are you about your own personal safety? Are you...
1 Very concerned
2 Somewhat concerned
3 Slightly concerned
4 Not really concerned
E3 Are you afraid to walk across campus alone at night?
E4 Do you walk across campus alone at night?
E5 Do you ever carry something with you to defend yourself or to alert other people?
If Yes, go to E6
If No, go to F1
E6 How often do you carry something with you to defend yourself or to alert other people?
Would you say...
If You answered 1, 2 or 3, please go to question #E7. If You answered 4, please go to question #F1
E7 What do you carry?
1 Whistle, noise maker/personal alarm
2 Mace, other spray
3 Knife, sharp object
5 Keychain, keys
6 Stick, bat, club/other blunt object
8 Martial arts/fists
9 Cell phone
RELATIONSHIP BEHAVIORS SECTION F
No matter how well a couple gets along, there are times when they disagree, get annoyed with the other
person, or just have spats or fights because they are in a bad mood. This is a list of things that might
happen when you and your partner are not getting along. Please circle how many times you did each of
these things in the past year, and how many times your partner did them to you in the past year. If
you or your partner did not do one of these things in the past year, but it happened before that, circle "5."
How often did this happen in the past year?
This has never happened
Once in the past year
Twice in the past year
3-5 times in the past year
6 or more times in the past year
Not in the past year, but it did happen before
F1 Threw something at my partner that could hurt. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F2 My partner did this to me. 1 2 3 4 5
F3 Twisted my partner's arm or hair. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F4 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F5 I kicked my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F6 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F7 I slapped my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F8 My partner did this to me. 1 2 3 4 5
F9 I pushed or shoved my partner. 1 2 3 4 5
F10 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F11 I punched or hit my partner with my hand or an object. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F15 IThrew somethi at my partner against a wall d hurt. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F2 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F17 I grabbed my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F4 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F19 I threatenkicked to hit or throw something at my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F6 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F7 I prevented my partner from seeing family or friends. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F8 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F923 I insisted or shovedwing my partners whereabouts all the 0 1 2 3 4 5
Fit I punched or hit my partner with my hand or an object. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F24 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F25 I insistchoked on knowing who partner was talking to on 0 1 2 3 4 5
the phone. didthistme.0
F15 I slammed my partner against a wall. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F26 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F27 I insulted or swore at partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F28 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F19 I threatened to hit or throw something at my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F20 My partnerdid this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F21 I prevented my partner from seeing family or friends. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F22 My partnerdid this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F23 I insisted on knowing my partners whereabouts all the 0 1 2 3 4 5
F24 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F25 I insisted on knowing who my partner was talking to on 0 1 2 3 4 5
F26 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F27 I insulted or swore at my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F28 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F29 I accused my partner of being a lousy lover. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F30 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F31 I called my partner bad names. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F32 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F33 I shouted or yelled at my partner. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F34 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F35 I used threats to make my partner have sex. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F36 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F37 I made my partner have sex without a condom. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F38 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F39 I used force (like hitting, holding down, or using a 0 1 2 3 4 5
weapon) to make my partner have sex (vaginal, oral, and/or anal).
F40 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
F41 I insisted on sex (vaginal, oral, and/or anal) when my 0 1 2 3 4 5
partner did not want to (but did not use physical force).
F42 My partner did this to me. 0 1 2 3 4 5
PROTECTIVE/RISK FACTORS SECTION G
The next set of questions ask you about your past behavior. Again, please remember that this is a
confidential survey and your answers can't be linked to you. Please answer the following questions
G1 How old were you when you had sexual intercourse for the first time?
1 Thirteen or younger
6 Eighteen or older
7 I have never had sexual intercourse
G2 During your life, how many people have you had sexual intercourse with?
2 2 partners
3 3 partners
4 4 partners
5 5 partners
6 6 partners or more
7 I have never had sexual intercourse
G3 During the last three months, how many people have you had sexual intercourse with?
2 2 partners
3 3 partners
4 4 partners
5 5 partners
6 6 partners or more
7 I did not have sexual intercourse during the past 3 months
8 I have never had sexual intercourse
Never Once A few times Often
In the past year, did you...
G4 Drink alcohol? 1 2 3 4
G5 Use marijuana? 1 2 3 4
G6 Use hard drugs like cocaine or heroin? 1 2 3 4
G7 Smoke cigarettes? 1 2 3 4
G8 Use fake ID's? 1 2 3 4
G9 Drink and drive? 1 2 3 4
Never Once A few times Often
In the past year, did your close friends...
G10 Drink alcohol? 1 2 3 4
G11 Use marijuana? 1 2 3 4
G12 Use hard drugs like cocaine or heroin? 1 2 3 4
G13 Smoke cigarettes? 1 2 3 4
G14 Use fake ID's? 1 2 3 4
G15 Drink and drive? 1 2 3 4
G16 How old were you when you first tried drugs?
1 Thirteen or younger
6 Eighteen or older
7 I have never tried drugs
G17 How old were you when you first had more than a sip of alcohol?
1 Thirteen or younger
6 Eighteen or older
7 I have never tried alcohol
G18 In the last year, how often did you attend religious services?
G19 How religious are you?
1 Not religious
2 Moderately religious
3 Very religious
H1 I often act on the spur of the moment without stopping to think. 1 2 3 4
H2 I don't devote much thought and effort to preparing for the 1 2 3 4
H3 I often do whatever brings me pleasure here and now, even at 1 2 3 4
the cost of some distant goal.
H4 I'm more concerned with what happens to me in the short run 1 2 3 4
than in the long run.
H5 I frequently try to avoid projects that I know will be difficult. 1 2 3 4
H6 When things get complicated, I tend to quit or withdraw. 1 2 3 4
H7 The things in life that are easiest to do bring me most pleasure. 1 2 3 4
H8 I dislike really hard tasks that stretch my abilities to the limit. 1 2 3 4
H9 I like to test myself every now and then by doing something a 1 2 3 4
H10 Sometimes I will take a risk just for the fun of it. 1 2 3 4
H11 I sometimes find it exciting to do things for which I might get in 1 2 3 4
H12 Excitement and adventure are more important to me than 1 2 3 4
H13 If I had a choice, I would almost always rather do something 1 2 3 4
physical than something mental.
H14 I almost always feel better when I am on the move than when I 1 2 3 4
am sitting and thinking.
H15 I like to get out and do things more than I like to read or 1 2 3 4
H16 I often look out for myself first, even if it means making things 1 2 3 4
difficult for other people
H17 I'm not very sympathetic to other people when they are having 1 2 3 4
H18 If things I do upset people, its their problem not mine. 1 2 3 4
H19 I will try to get the things I want even when I know it causes 1 2 3 4
problems for other people.
H20 I lose my temper pretty easily. 1 2 3 4
H21 Often, when I'm angry at people I feel more like hurting them 1 2 3 4
than talking to them about why I am angry.
H22 When I'm really angry, other people better stay away from me. 1 2 3 4
H23 When I have a serious disagreement with someone, it's usually 1 2 3 4
hard for me to talk calmly about it without getting upset.
ATTACHMENT TO PARENTAL FIGURES-SECTION I
Please answer the following questions about your current relationship with your parents,
step-parents, or guardians.
ATTACHMENT TO MOM
Please answer these questions about your mom/female guardian... C
I1 How often do you trust your mom/female guardian? 1 2 3 4 5
12 How often do you feel you can talk to her about your problems? 1 2 3 4 5
13 How often do you think she is genuinely interested in you? 1 2 3 4 5
14 How often do you feel that she supports you? 1 2 3 4 5
ATTACHMENT TO DAD
Please answer these questions about your dad/male guardian... a Co
7 C E
15 How often do you trust your dad/male guardian? 1 2 3 4 5
16 How often do you feel you can talk to him about your problems? 1 2 3 4 5
17 How often do you think he is genuinely interested in you? 1 2 3 4 5
18 How often do you feel that he supports you ? 1 2 3 4 5
Yes No Not Applicable
19 I would like to be the kind of person my father/male 1 2 3
110 I would like to be the kind of person my mother/female 1 2 3
I11 I talk over future plans with my parents/guardians 1 2 3
112 My mother/female guardian seems to understand me 1 2 3
113 My father/male guardian understands me 1 2 3
114 Would your mother/female guardian stick by you if you 1 2 3
got into really bad trouble?
115 Would your father/male guardian stick by you if you got 1 2 3
into really bad trouble?
This is the end of the survey. Thank you for taking the time to participate in this research.
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Kathleen A. Fox earned her Bachelor of Science degree in sociology in 2004 from
the University of Utah. She moved to Gainesville, Florida to enter the graduate program
in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of Florida in the
fall of 2004 where she earned her Master of Arts degree in 2006.