Early Signs of Stalking

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The Early Signs
The first step in studying a phenomenon such as stalking is to con¬duct descriptive and correlational studies that provide information on how and why stalking occurs. Another important area of study is the analysis of antecedents, or early signs of stalking, that might be used to pre¬dict the behavior in specific situations or in certain individuals. In this con¬text, early signs of stalking constitute either of the following: (a) problem behaviors in the social relationships of children or adolescents that could be viewed as early manifestations of obsessional following in a specific instance, or (b) childhood risk factors that suggest someone might stalk another person later in life. One reason for exploring the potential early signs of stalking in young people is that it broadens the application of mate¬rial presented thus far by raising awareness of those risk factors that can be targeted for treatment. In this way, preventive programs can be implement¬ed early on so that the risk of stalking might be reduced. A final reason for examining potential risk factors for stalking is that some problem behaviors in childhood that overlap with stalking, such as bullying and sexual harass¬ment, have been more extensively studied and can provide direction for the design of preventive programs for stalking and obsessional following.

Before discussing these early risk factors, I offer a note of caution on the practical use of the material presented in this chapter. When informa¬tion is offered for one purpose, such as providing clinical and empirical hypotheses or outlining specific issues that can be addressed in treatment, there is a risk that such factors may be applied for less legitimate purpos¬es, such as identifying specific individuals for restrictive detention or con¬firming some preconceived notion about a person's guilt or innocence in a criminal case. The present chapter is offered as an overview of...
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