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One in Five Texans Are Stalking Victims According to Survey

The idea that stalking is something that happens rarely and only affects celebrities is wrong and dangerous, according to a study by the Crime Victims' Institute at Sam Houston State University.

In a survey of 701 randomly-selected Texas residents conducted in the spring of 2006, almost one of every five (18.25 percent) said they had been victims of multiple stalking incidents in the past 24 months.

While national studies have shown that women are more than three times as likely as men to be stalked in their lifetime, the Texas study showed that men (16 percent) and women (19.9 percent) were almost equally likely to be stalked here.

"Stalking is a serious social problem in Texas," said Glen Kercher, Crime Victims' Institute director, who co-authored the study along with graduate student Matthew Johnson. "Many victims may not realize the extent to which stalking behavior can endanger them."

Kercher said that a national study of women who were murdered by intimate partners indicated that 76 percent of those victims had been stalked by the perpetrator.

Of those who were stalked in Texas, less than half (43 percent) reported the incident(s) to the police. Even those who do the stalking may not realize that they are doing anything wrong.

"Many stalkers may not be aware that their behavior is criminal," said Kercher. "They may mistakenly believe that since they have had a relationship with the victim, their behavior will not be questioned."

In Texas, three conditions must be met for a behavior to be considered a stalking offense:

         The offender must know, or reasonably believe the victim will perceive the behavior as threatening;

         The behavior must cause the victim or a member of the victim's family to fear injury or damage to property;

         The behavior would cause a reasonable person to have these fears.

"Stalking can affect every part of a person's life," said Kercher. "Many victims experience financial loss. Others quit their jobs or stop attending school. Still others choose to relocate and avoid social activities."

The SHSU survey indicated that the two most frequently reported stalking acts were receiving repeated phone calls and having things stolen from the victim. Other findings included:

         Stalking victims are most likely to be under 35 years of age;

         Ethnically, Asian residents showed the highest rate of victimization, followed by Hispanics;

         More than 75 percent of stalking victims reported at least one adverse emotional effect, with the most common being anger followed by loss of sleep;

         Among the victims who had some idea of why they were targeted, the most common reason given was jealousy.

Kercher said that an ongoing public information campaign should be conducted to alert victims to early signs of stalking and the importance of reporting such behavior. Also, law enforcement personnel and prosecutors need specialized training to identify, investigate, and prosecute cases of stalking.

—END—

SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
March 22, 2007
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu.

This page maintained by SHSU's Office of Public Relations
Director: Frank Krystyniak
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
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Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834