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Unpublished Paper
Teens, Technology, and Cyberstalking: The Domestic Violence Wave of the Future?
ExpressO (2010)
  • Andrew J King-Ries

While the legal system has made progress in combating domestic violence in the last 30 years, this progress is threatened by the intersection of two recent developments: teenagers normalizing unhealthy relationship patterns through pervasive use of technology and law enforcement’s inability to adequately respond to cyberstalking. The combination of these trends suggests America is producing a new generation of domestic violence batterers.

Recent studies document extensive use of technology—email, texts, social networking—by teenagers in their intimate relationships. Teenagers’ use of technology in their dating relationships often mimics relationship patterns present in violent adult relationships. Teenagers appear to be normalizing unhealthy relationship patterns through this ubiquitous use of technology. Since studies also establish that relationship patterns learned in adolescence carry over into adulthood, today’s teenagers are at high risk of future domestic violence.

Moreover, law enforcement has yet to develop an effective response to cyberstalking due to lack of resources and training. Technology provides increasingly sophisticated ways for batterers to stalk their intimate partners and avoid detection, apprehension, and prosecution. Twenty-six percent of stalking victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology. Although stalking and cyberstalking are chronically under-reported, the connection between stalking and violence is well-established: 80% of all stalking of intimate partners was coupled with physical violence against the victims and 76% of all women killed by their intimate partners had also been stalked by that partner.

The American criminal justice system is facing a future domestic violence crisis. Unfortunately, authorities—both parents and law enforcement—tend to minimize the seriousness of violence within adolescent relationships and to minimize the seriousness of stalking. This article argues that the first step to avoiding this crisis is to recognize the risk and to take it seriously. An aspect of this demands greater commitment of law enforcement resources and training for investigators and prosecutors. The second step will be to “re-norm” the norm using technology itself.

  • cyberstalking,
  • domestic violence,
  • adolescents,
  • technology
Publication Date
August 20, 2010
Citation Information
Andrew J King-Ries. "Teens, Technology, and Cyberstalking: The Domestic Violence Wave of the Future?" ExpressO (2010)
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