Cyberstalking: Preliminary Findings of Predatory Behavior and Characteristics

Matthew Petrocelli, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsvill

The advent and profileration of the Internet has given rise to a new and form of criminal behavior: cyberstalking. Generally defined, cyberstalking entails the use of a computer to pursue, harass and intimidate another. It is a phenomenon that has only recently been recognized as a serious problem, although it is clear that the incidence of such cases has been growing exponentially over the course of the last few years. With little to no empirical research to inform the public, policy makers, legislators and law enforcement officials, the need to conduct rigorous scientific examination is manifest. This study measures a variety of individual and situational variables related to the crime, resulting in a model that predicts the type of individual most likely to offend, the circumstances of the offense and the prototypical victim. The findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical and policy implications.

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Updated 05/20/2006