Journal Article Review

I have attached the journal article with this question: “Cyber Harassment” (please cite everything)1) Provide: (a)Title of Journal. (b)Year of publication. (c) Author. (d) Title of Article. (e) Volume, (f) page numbers.2) Summary (one page) summarize the main points and findings of the article in one page, include what explanation(s) of crime are being tested.3) Critical Evaluation. (2-3 pages) Critically evaluate the theoretical framework of the article. That is, choose at least one theory that was discussed in the course that the article does nottake into account (e.g., biological, personality, personality disorder, family process, learning, control, deterrence, social disorganization, Criminal opportunity/routine activities, anomie, and institutional anomie, general strain, integrated). Do you think (personal opinion) the omission of this theory may have affected the results? Why or why not? Explain.

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Patterns of Cyber Harassment and Perpetration among
College Students in the United States: A Test of
Routine Activities Theory
1. Title
Patterns of Cyber Harassment and Perpetration among College Students in the United
States: A Test of Routine Activities Theory
2. Author
Wick, S Elizabeth 1 ; Nagoshi, Craig 2 ; Basham, Randy 3 ; Jordan, Catheleen 4 ; Kim, Youn
Kyoung 5 ; Nguyen, Anh Phuong; Lehmann, Peter
3. Publication title
International Journal of Cyber Criminology;
4. Volume
5. Issue
6. Pages
7. Publication year
8. Publication date
Jan-Jun 2017
9. Publisher
International Journal of Cyber Criminology
A sample of 298 college students at a large southwestern state university (female 68.8%) completed
an online survey about their experiences of being victimized by and engaging in perpetration of
cyber-harassment of romantic partners. The findings partially supported the application of Routine
Activities Theory to understand the predictors of cyber-harassment for victims and victimizers.
Victimization for women was associated with greater general risk-taking propensity and reported
online exposure and disclosure. For both men and women, greater risk propensity and online
disclosure were associated with greater reports of perpetrating such harassment.
Full Text
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A sample of 298 college students at a large southwestern state university (female 68.8%) completed
an online survey about their experiences of being victimized by and engaging in perpetration of
cyber-harassment of romantic partners. The findings partially supported the application of Routine
Activities Theory to understand the predictors of cyber-harassment for victims and victimizers.
Victimization for women was associated with greater general risk-taking propensity and reported
online exposure and disclosure. For both men and women, greater risk propensity and online
disclosure were associated with greater reports of perpetrating such harassment.
Keywords: Cyber-Harassment, Risk Propensity, Online Exposure, Online Disclosure, College
New electronic technologies have contributed to the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) by
enabling perpetrators with convenient tools to intimidate, isolate, and stalk their victims in new and
damaging ways (Dixon & Bowen, 2012; Melander, 2010). IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or
psychological abuse or harm perpetrated by a current or former partner or common-law spouse,
non-marital dating partner or boyfriend/girlfriend of same or opposite sex (Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, 2016). Research has shown that the consequences of psychological abuse
can be equally as devastating as physical abuse. Equally concerning is that this form of abuse may
open the door to physical abuse or sexual harassment (Dixon & Bowen, 2012; Halder & Jaishankar,
2011; Melander, 2010). College students are at particular risk for the effects of this type of IPV, due
to their high usage of electronic technology (Dixon & Bowen, 2012; Melander, 2010). According to
the Pew Research Center (2014), some 97% of US college students use the internet, while 73% use
social networking sites. Ninety-eight percent of the population aged 18-29 have a cell phone (83% of
these are smart phones), 81% use their phones to text, and more than half use their phones to
access the internet and email (Pew Research Center, 2014). This high usage of electronic
technology opens college students to the possibility of online harassment, as well as victimization
and perpetration of IPV
We use the term cyber harassment to include IPV conducted through electronic technology. Cyber
harassment involves threatening, insulting, harassing, or harming individuals via electronic
communications such as email and cell phones (Beran & Li, 2005). Unlike cyber bullying, which is
largely used to describe the experiences of children and teenagers, cyber harassment is not limited
to abuse or aggression from peers, but refers more to unwanted acts and behaviors among adults,
including intimate partners, acquaintances or strangers (Campbell, 2005; Jameson, 2008; Miller,
2006; Welsh & Lavoie, 2012). Examples of cyber harassment include undesirable sexual solicitation,
sexual harassment, voyeuristic behavior, obscene comments, and spamming (Behm-Morawitz &
Schipper, 2015; Dempsey et al., 2011). The related concept of cyber stalking involves conduct
directly targeting the victim, rather than only communicating about a victim (Lipton, 2011, Miller,
2006). Welsh and Lavoie (2012) argue that both cyber bullying and cyber stalking are different forms
of cyber harassment. Age is the parameter to differentiate between the two types of crimes, with
cyber bullying describing a type of cyber harassment involving children and youth, while cyber
stalking refers to forms of cyber harassment among adults (Miller, 2006; Welsh & Lavoie, 2012).
The purpose of this study is to explore how online behaviors may make college students vulnerable
to cyber harassment by their intimate partners. Routine Activities Theory (RAT; Cohen & Felson,
1979) was employed as the theoretical framework of this study. Individual differences in vulnerability
to being cyber harassed, particularly propensity for risk taking, as well as amount of online exposure
and disclosure, which exposes students to motivated online offenders, were expected to be
predictive of their reported experience of cyber victimization. Under the framework of RAT, this study
also investigated whether these same individual differences and behavioral factors predicted
reported perpetration of cyber harassment. Although RAT has been used widely as a theory of
victimization (Clodfelter, Turner, Hartman, & Kuhns, 2010; Holt & Bossler, 2008; Ngo & Paternoster,
2011; Reyns, Henson, & Fisher, 2011), empirical research has also shown that RAT is applicable to
be used as a theory of offending (Chan, Heide, & Beauregard, 2011; Miller, 2012; Sasse, 2005) and
of the overlap in being cyber harassed and engaging in such harassment (Forde & Kennedy, 1997;
Jennings, Piquero, & Reingle, 2012; Klevens, Duque, & Ramirez, 2002; Maxfield, 1987; Mustaine &
Tewksbury, 2000, Osgood et. al., 1996; Smith & Ecob, 2007; Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2000). For
example, Jennings et al. (2012) found that the more a youth interacts with delinquent peers in the
absence of a capable guardian, the greater the likelihood of that youth engaging in violent
perpetrating, as well as experiencing violent victimization.
Review of Literature
a. Incidence and Impact of IPV among College Students
College and university students in the United States are at high risk of victimization through intimate
partner violence (IPV) (Chan et al., 2011; Melander, 2010; Straus, 2008). In 2011, the College
Dating Violence and Abuse Poll found that 43% of college women polled reported being in a
relationship characterized by some form of abuse, including: physical, psychological, sexual, or
controlling behaviors. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2007) found that 21% of
college students (of unspecified gender) report having experienced dating violence by a current
partner, and 32% reported violence by a previous partner. Depending on the definition used and the
type of violence being investigated, as many as one in three couples in college report some form of
dating violence (Kaukinen, Gover, & Hartman, 2012).
Gender has been a key risk factor, based on the common finding that IPV is primarily perpetrated by
men against women in an attempt to control or dominate one’s partner (Mustaine & Tewksbury,
1999). Early studies have borne this out, finding higher rates of victimization among women and
perpetration among men (Kaukinen, 2014). Women are more likely to suffer sexual assault and be
seriously injured by their partners, while men are more likely to be the victims of psychological abuse
(Kaukinen, 2014).
Recent studies are finding that rates of perpetration by men and women are more similar than
previously thought (Kaukinen et al., 2012; Kaukinen, 2014; Tilyer & Wright, 2014). In a study by
Burke, Wallen, Vail-Smith, and Knox (2011), females reported engaging in controlling and monitoring
behavior more than males, but in Welsh and Lavoie’s (2012) study, women were much more likely to
report unwanted contact than men. Dating violence among college students has been found to occur
most frequently in the context of a mutually violent relationship, with both parties enacting the role of
perpetrator and victim (Cercone, Beach, & Arias, 2005; Kaukinen et al., 2012). Cercone et al. (2005)
found that men and women were equally likely to report perpetration and victimization in terms of
psychological aggression and minor assault, as well as being victims of severe physical assault.
However, females admitted to committing more severe physical assault on their partners.
b. Cyber Harassment among College Students: Online Risks, Offline Risks, and IPV
A limited number of studies on college students have been conducted to capture the extent of cyberharassment/cyber-stalking among this population (Finn, 2004). Melander’s (2010) study found that
one third of undergraduate students had experienced some form of computer-based cyber
harassment. Finn (2004) found that 10- 15% of students had experienced cyber harassment, but
only 7% had reported this harassment to authorities. Alexy, Burgess, Baker, and Smoyak (2005)
found that 4% of the studied population reported being victims of cyber stalking.
The rise in technology use clearly allows for an increase in the opportunity and means for cyber
harassment in relationships (Behm-Morawitz & Schipper, 2015; Beran & Li, 2005; Melander, 2010).
College students are using technology in record numbers, rendering them more susceptible to
manipulation and intrusion in their daily routines (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). In general, some of the
most frequent ways in which technology is abused under the form of cyber harassment are texting
(either in a threatening and harassing manner or via repetitive and relentless contact), checking a
partner’s online history, texts, email, monitoring social networking sites, using GPS to locate a
partner, and demanding passwords to a partner’s accounts (Burke et al., 2011; Dixon & Bowen,
2012). Consequently, these habits and practices may put college students at high risk for face-toface intimate partner violence (Dixon & Bowen, 2012; Melander, 2010).
College students are well known for indulging in risky online and offline behaviors (Huang et al.,
2014; Lyndon, Bonds-Raacke, & Cratty, 2011; Reich, Subrahmanyam, & Espinoza, 2012; Schenk &
Fremouw, 2012; Walker, Sockman, & Koehn, 2011). In terms of offline risks, behaviors such as drug
and alcohol use, sexual risk taking, and multiple sexual partners, are highly associated with IPV
(Kaukinen, 2014), and these factors are likely to also predict online risks behaviors, as discussed
below (Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014; Reich et al., 2012).
College students tend to develop habits in their technology usage that may increase their risk of
victimization. Increased levels of exposure and proximity to offenders add to their attractiveness as a
target (Welsh & Lavoie, 2012). The high level of personal disclosure facilitated by technology may
increase risk (Gross & Acquisti, 2005; Melander, 2010). Many technology users have become
comfortable in not only disclosing personal information but also physical location, with many cell
phones including GPS locators and websites encouraging “check ins” in specific places, thus
allowing potential offenders to monitor, track, or stalk victims (Dixon & Bowen, 2012). Melander
(2010) points out that “…those who use technological forms of communication tend to be less
inhibited in their online interactions and may type or text things that they would not customarily say in
real life” (p. 18).
c.Routine Activities Theory Applied to Cyber Harassment
Many theories attempt to explain the bases of intimate partner violence, including feminist, social
learning, and social exchange theories (Anderson, 1997; Jasinski, 2001). Recent research, however,
suggests that these largely gender based theories cannot account for the fact that in many cases
women may no longer be the sole victim or the primary victim, particularly in the case of
psychological or cyber abuse, and that these limitations must be addressed.
Routine Activities Theory (RAT) shifts the emphasis away from gender roles, learning, or
negotiation-based frameworks in explaining victimization and towards examining risk factors that
result from the changing patterns of life experienced through new technology. Developed by Cohen
and Felson (1979), RAT relates daily routine activities with the occurrence of direct contact crime.
RAT proposes that these crimes occur at the intersection of three factors or conditions: an
accessible, attractive, and suitable target in a position of exposure to victimization, the presence of a
motivated offender (proximity), and the lack of a capable guardian to prevent this crime from taking
place (guardianship) (Cohen & Felson, 1979). Since this theory was developed, a number of studies
have been carried out that support its relevance in understanding face-to-face crime.
Target suitability/attractiveness involves the characteristics or behaviors of targets that make them
attractive and available to likely offenders (Cohen & Felson, 1979; Welsh & Lavoie, 2012). These
could be social activities, economic status, alcohol and drug use, to name a few (Cohen & Felson,
2010). In applying RAT to cyber harassment, Welsh and Lavoie (2012) operationalized target
attractiveness in terms of risk taking propensity, while Reyns et al. (2011) operationalized this in
terms of gender, romantic relationship status, and degree of online information disclosure.
Exposure and proximity to potential offenders are often considered together in applying RAT to faceto-face crime, but it may be informative to separate the concepts with regard to understanding cyber
harassment. According to the Pew Research Center, the sheer amount of time spent online and on
cell phones is increasing exponentially across all ages and all income brackets in the United States.
Some 97% of adults aged 18-29 used the Internet in 2014 (Pew Research Center, 2014), and by
2012, 67% were using their phones to access social networking sites (Pew Research Center, 2014).
The constant accessibility of modern technology, such as smart phones and computers, opens vast
new worlds of virtual encounters. Victims can be contacted at almost any time, which may lead to
feelings of increased vulnerability (Melander, 2010). Online offenders have the potential to be
creative in terms of harassment, utilizing technology to threaten, stalk, isolate, control, or cause legal
trouble for their victims.
Beyond exposure, however, the online environment’s ease and encouragement of disclosing
personal information may make overly disclosing users particularly vulnerable to being cyber
harassed, as well as provide means for perpetrators to engage in such harassment. While research
indicates that users of social networking sites are much less likely to be socially isolated and receive
more social support than the average American (Pew Research Center, 2010), these sites
encourage the creation of profiles that may include such personal information as gender, birth date,
relationship status, and sometimes even the home address or the class schedule of the user (Welsh
& Lavoie, 2012). Utilizing this information, an offender can victimize a user repeatedly over an
extended period of time (Reyns et al., 2011). The disclosure of personal information can increase
the risk of many kinds of online victimization, from stalking and harassment to identity theft, by
strangers or intimate partners. However, users often seem unaware of these risks, and the
disclosure of this type of information is perceived as normal in online interactions (Welsh & Lavoie,
The unregulated nature of the online environment creates a lack of guardianship over the use of
communication and cyber-technology that presents ample opportunity for a motivated offender to
harass or abuse an intimate partner. Measuring such lack of guardianship in potential and actual
victims of cyber harassment to test RAT, however, is problematic, since perceptions of guardianship
are only relevant to perpetrators.
Welsh and Lovoie (2012) conducted a partial test of RAT’s applicability to predicting cyberharassment victimization for a sample of college student social network users and, in support of the
theory, found that both online exposure and online disclosure of personal information (proximity)
significantly predicted the likelihood of being victimized independent of the effect of degree of
proneness to risk taking (target availability/attractiveness). Welsh and Lavoie did not attempt to
directly measure guardianship, but suggested that degree of disclosure reflects potential victims’ lack
of guardianship. Reyns et al. (2011) attempted a full test of RAT in predicting college student cyberharassment victimization and also obtained findings supportive of the theory, but their
conceptualization and measurement of the components of RAT somewhat differed from Welsh and
Lavioe’s (2012). Reyns et al. found that target attractiveness, as conceptualized in terms of online
disclosure, was not predictive of being cyber harassed but being female and in a romantic
relationship was predictive. Online exposure produced similar effects as in Welsh and Lavoie’s
study, while proximity was conceptualized in terms of stranger access to user online profiles, which
was predictive of being cyber harassed. Guardianship was conceptualized in terms of using profile
trackers and limiting profile access, but the authors admit that such “self-guardianship” is not really
reflective of RAT’s emphasis on the lack of guardianship as perceived by perpetrators of cyber
harassment. In contrast, Ngo and Paternoster’s (2011) study of the applicability of RAT to predicting
various forms of cyber victimization in college students found that, over and above the individual
differences variable of low self-control (related to risk taking propensity), exposure, disclosure, and
guardianship (self-guardianship, such as use of security software) items were generally not
predictive of being cyber victimized).
Current Study
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of online behaviors as risk factors for cyber
harassment. Part of the study was a replication of Welsh and Lavoie (2012)’s study using a U.S.
instead of a Canadian college student sample. Beyond testing whether online exposure and
disclosure predicted being victimized by cyber harassment over and above the effects of target
attractiveness (based on risk propensity), we also tested whether target attractiveness interacted
with online exposure and disclosure to exacerbate the risk of being victimized. The present study
also tested Routine Activities Theory in terms of predicting the likelihood of perpetrating cyber
harassment, which has not been widely tested. Cohen & Felson (1979) note that “the routine activity
approach might in the future be applied to the analysis of offenders and their inclinations as well” (p.
605), and RAT has been used in several empirical studies to examine offending (Chan et al., 2011;
Miller, 2012; Sasse, 2005), as well as in studies analysing the overlap of victim and offender
(Jennings et al., 2012; Klevens et al., 2002). Finally, the moderating effects of gender are also
considered in this current study.
Two hundred ninety-eight undergraduate students taking introductory psychology courses at a large
southwestern state university completed an anonymous online survey for research participation
credi …
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