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Cyberstalking--What's the Big Deal? (From Controversies in Victimology, Second Edition, P 103-113, 2008, Laura J. Moriarty, ed. -- See NCJ-225281)

NCJ Number
Nicolle Parsons-Pollard; Laura J. Moriarty
Date Published
11 pages
After defining “cyberstalking,” this chapter identifies similarities and differences between cyberstalking and stalking, followed by discussions of the effects of cyberstalking, impediments to investigating and prosecuting it, and ways of addressing and preventing the problem.
“Cyberstalking” is similar to stalking in that both behaviors involve persistent threatening or harassing behaviors. Behaviors that meet the definition of cyberstalking are sending repeated e-mail or instant messages that may or may not directly threaten the recipient; flooding a victim’s e-mail box with unwanted mail; and sending misinformation or false messages to chat rooms. Stalking and cyberstalking differ in terms of the public acceptance of the crimes. Because cyberstalking does not apparently involve a high risk of physical confrontation and surveillance, it may not be viewed as severe a crime as stalking; however, the effects of cyberstalking can be as detrimental to the victim as those of traditional stalking. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (2007), cyberstalking may result in changes in sleeping and eating patterns, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, fear for personal safety, and a sense of helplessness. Some impediments to investigating and prosecuting cyberstalking are the anonymity of the Internet, jurisdictional issues, variation in laws across States, and the difficulty of obtaining information from Internet service providers (ISPs). Steps for preventing cyberstalking include not sharing personal information in public places online such as chat rooms or e-mails to strangers, and ensuring that any offline meetings occur in public locations with a friend present. ISPs can assist in blocking or filtering the stalker’s e-mails. Reporting the incident to police as well as ISPs is also important. 29 references