Being pursued: Stalking victimization in a national study of college women

Research summary: We provide results of a 1997 national-level study of stalking among college women. Over an approximately seven-month period, 13.1% of the women reported being stalked. Although physical harm was not common, the incidents typically lasted two months, involved frequent contact by offenders, and prompted victims to take protective actions. Lifestyle-routine activities, prior sexual victimization, and demographic characteristics affected the risk of victimization. Policy implications: Due to it's prevalence, college and university administrators need to rectify their current neglect of stalking. Interventions may include educational programs, crime prevention seminars, reducing opportunities for stalking, and increasing informal and formal controls over stalkers.
Cullen,Francis T.
Turner,Michael G.
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Criminology Public Policy
In a review of research on the victimization of women, the authors state that stalking has received little attention despite passage of extensive state and federal anti-stalking laws in the last 12 years. This study fills the research gap on stalking among college women as an at-risk population. The authors conducted a telephone survey drawing upon a nationally representative sample of women (N = 4,446) attending two and four year colleges and universities. Detailed questions were asked regarding stalking victimization (i.e., form, duration, intensity, location, injuries, reactions, and reporting) and victim-offender relationship. As a theoretical basis, the authors used lifestyle routine activity theory, which suggests that four particular lifestyles or routines (i.e., proximity to motivated offenders, exposure to crime, target attractiveness, and lack of guardianship) may put individuals at greater risk of victimization than those who do not engage in such activities or lifestyles. The relationship of demographic and lifestyle variables to stalking victimization was then examined within a multivariate statistical model. Results indicated that 13.1% of college women had been stalked once since the academic year began, 12.7% had been stalked twice, and 2.3% had been stalked three or more times. The median duration for a stalking incident was two months with 41% experiencing pursuit behaviors 2 to 6 times/week and another 13.3% experiencing them daily. Four in five victims knew their stalker; namely, 42.9% were current boyfriends or ex-boyfriends, 29% were classmates, and 10.4% were acquaintances. Substantial support was found for the routine activity theory. Propensity to be at places with alcohol, being in a relationship or dating, living alone, undergraduate status, higher SES class, prior sexual victimization, and being Non-Hispanic/Latina, Native American, or Other, were significantly associated with stalking victimization. Given the high prevalence of stalking, the authors suggested college administrations should take a proactive approach to protecting female students.
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College, Risk, Stalking
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