Cyberstalking: Are We on the Same (Web)page? A Comparison of Statutes, Case Law, and Public Perception
Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research Vol. 9 Iss. 2 (2017) p. 83 - 94
13 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2020 Last revised: 26 Jun 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2017
Purpose: As society becomes more technology oriented, cyberstalking is becoming an increasing concern. The purpose of this paper is to compare US state and federal statutory and case law to a survey of public perception of cyberstalking to examine if cyberstalking laws reflect public opinion.
A national sample of 303 participants ranging in age from 18 to 69 years (M=33.35, SD=10.45) completed a novel cyberstalking survey and demographic questionnaire. The survey encompassed participants’ perceptions about the scope of cyberstalking as a crime, views on punishment of cyberstalking, and behaviors they have engaged in online or experienced from others that could constitute cyberstalking.
Findings: Findings indicated numerous areas of disagreement between public perception and statutory case law, such as a public preference that cyberstalking be treated as a separate offense from stalking, that a threat of violence is not required for behavior to constitute cyberstalking, and that there should be a private civil cause of action for cyberstalking. Findings also indicated that a substantial minority of participants had engaged in or been the victim of cyber actions that could be considered cyberstalking, and that the public preferred sanctions other than incarceration for cyberstalking.
Originality/value: This is the first study to examine whether cyberstalking policy in the USA reflects public perception of cyberstalking.
Keywords: Policy, Perception, Survey, Case law, Statutes, Cyberstalking
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation