1997-98 Academy Text Supplement
The Model Anti-stalking Code
In 1993, as incidents of stalking began to increase, Congress directed the National Institute of
Justice, within the U.S. Department of Justice, to develop a model anti-stalking code to provide
a constitutional and enforceable legal framework for states to utilize in formulating their anti-stalking laws. A group of nationally recognized criminal justice and victims' rights experts
developed a model anti-stalking code. By 1996, in the three years since the release of this
significant report, 17 states had amended their stalking laws. (National Institute of Justice. (1996,
April). Domestic Violence, Stalking and Anti-Stalking Legislation, Annual Report to Congress under the Violence
Against Women Act, NCJ-160943. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
The Model Code encouraged legislators to:
- Make stalking a felony offense.
- Establish penalties for stalking that reflect and are commensurate with the
seriousness of the crime.
- Provide criminal justice officials with the authority and legal tools to arrest,
prosecute, and sentence stalkers.
The Interstate Anti-Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act of 1996
The Interstate Anti-Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act was enacted by Congress in
September of 1996. The law was incorporated as an amendment to the Defense Authorization
bill, H.R. 3610. The new law was designed to improve the anti-stalking provisions passed as part
of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Crime Bill) and to create a
uniform federal law to protect stalking victims when they travel across a state line and/or on
federal property, including military bases and Indian reservations. The Act makes it a felony to
cross a state line to stalk someone in violation of a restraining order.
According to the National Victim Center, as stated in its national publication the Victim Policy
- Under Section 2261 of the Crime Bill, anyone who crosses state lines with the
intent to injure, harass or intimidate that person's spouse or intimate partner, or
who, in the course of such travel, intentionally commits a crime of violence and
causes bodily injury to the spouse or intimate partner, is in violation of federal
law. (National Victim Center. (1996, Spring). Public Policy Pipeline, Vol. Two, No. 1, p. 2.
Arlington, VA: Author.)
- Additionally, Section 2262(B) makes it a federal crime for any person to cause his
or her spouse or intimate partner to cross a state line by force or coercion, and in
the course of or as a result of that, commits an act that injures the spouse or
intimate partner in violation of a protective order. (Ibid.)
- Importantly, the new federal anti-stalking law amends these above sections of the
Crime Bill in order to expand the measure to include victims stalked by persons
other than their spouse or intimate partner. (Ibid.)
- In addition, the anti-stalking law creates a new federal crime of "interstate
stalking." According to the National Victim Center, anyone traveling across state
lines, or entering or leaving Indian territory with the intent to injure or harass
another person, and in the course of such travel, places that person in reasonable
fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or a member of his or her
immediate family, would be in violation of federal law. The same criteria apply
on all federal property, including military installations. (Ibid.)
New Research on Stalking from the National Institute of Justice
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In April of 1998 the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) released a study on the extent of stalking nationwide. To better understand the
extent of stalking and the context in which violence related to stalking occurs, the National
Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborated
in a comprehensive survey of violence against women. Conducted by the Center for Policy
Research, the National Violence Against Women Survey collected data from 8,000 women and
8,000 men 18 years of age or older from November 1995 through May 1996.
The following data were first released by NIJ in November of 1997 in a Bulletin entitled The
Crime of Stalking: How Big is the Problem? A more comprehensive overview of the research
findings were released in a April 1998 Research in Brief report entitled Stalking in America,
modeled after the landmark 1992 Rape in America report developed by the Medical University
of South Carolina and the National Victim Center.
- Stalking affects about 1.4 million victims annually.
- Of those surveyed, eight percent of women and two percent of men said they had
been stalked at some point in their lives. Projected against 1995 estimates of the
adult population, these percentages would result in 8.2 million female and two
million male lifetime stalking victims, most of whom were stalked by only one
- While stalking is a gender neutral crime, 78 percent of the stalking victims
identifed by the survey were women, and 22 percent were men.
- Researchers estimated that approximately one million women and 400,000 men
are stalked each year in the United States.
- About half of all female stalking victims reported their victimization to police and
about 25 percent obtained a restraining order. Eighty percent of all restraining
orders were violated by the assailant. About 24 percent of female victims who
reported stalking to the police, as compared to 19 percent of male victims, said
their cases were prosecuted. Of the cases in which criminal charges were filed, 54
percent resulted in a conviction. About 63 percent of convictions resulted in jail
- Most victims knew their stalker. Women were significantly more likely to be
stalked by an intimate partner -- a current or former spouse, a co-habitating
partner, or a date. About 60 percent of stalking by intimate partners started
before a relationship ended. Only 23 percent of stalkers identified by female
victims were strangers. However, men were more likely to be stalked by a
stranger or an acquaintance -- 36 percent of male stalking victims were stalked by
- Young adults are also the primary targets of stalkers. For example, 52 percent of
the stalking victims were 18-29 years old and 22 percent were 30-39 years old
when the stalking started. On average, victims were 28 years old when the
- About 87 percent of stalkers were men. Women tended to be victimized by lone
stalkers, but in 50 percent of male victimizations, the stalker had an accomplice --
usually a friend or girlfriend. Most victims were between the ages of 18 and 29
when the stalking began.
- Stalkers made overt threats to about 45 percent of victims; spied on or followed
about 75 percent of victims; vandalized the property of about 30 percent of
victims; and threatened to kill or killed the pet(s) of about 10 percent of victims.
- In most cases, stalking episodes lasted one year or less, but in a few cases,
stalking continued for 5 or more years. When asked why the stalking stopped,
about 20 percent of the victims said it was because they moved away. Another
15 percent said it was because of police involvement. Also, stalking of women
victims often stopped when the assailant began a relationship with a new girlfriend
- Results from the survey also indicate that female victims were significantly more
likely than male victims (28 percent and 10 percent) to obtain a protective or
restraining order against their stalker. Of those who obtained restraining orders,
69 percent of the women and 81 percent of the men said their stalker violated the
- Overall, 13 percent of female victims and nine percent of male victims reported
that their stalkers were criminally prosecuted. These figures increase to 24
percent and 19 percent, respectively, when only those cases with police reports
- About one-third of stalking victims reported they had sought psychological
treatment. In addition, one-fifth lost time from work, and seven percent of those
never returned to work.
Recommendations to address the crime of stalking included in the Report are the following:
- Stalking should be treated as a significant social problem.
- Credible threat requirements should be eliminated from anti-stalking statutes.
- Research on stalking should move beyond "celebrity stalking" and focus on
acquaintance and intimate partner stalking.
- The nation's criminal justice community should receive comprehensive training
on the particular safety needs of stalking victims.
- More research must be conducted on the effectiveness of formal and informal law
- The mental health community should receive comprehensive training about the
appropriate treatment of stalking victims.
- Stalking intervention strategies should include/address victim confidentiality
The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.