Girls more likely to be harassed, stalked online

Safety and justice | 20-01-2020 13:01

5.3 percent of 12 to 24-year-old internet users report that they were bullied, stalked or threatened online in 2018. Over 140 thousand young people were affected. Girls were almost twice as likely to be a victim as boys (7.1 versus 3.6 percent). Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on a survey on cybersecurity and cybercrime.

In total, more than 38 thousand persons participated in this survey, which was conducted late 2018. One set of questions focused on interpersonal incidents. Internet users were asked whether they had been exposed to online defamation (e.g. gossip, harassment or bullying), stalking (repeated harassment) or threats over the past twelve months.

Defamation most prevalent

With 3.9 percent, online defamation was most prevalent. 1.9 percent of the respondents reported they had encountered online stalking, while 1.0 percent were exposed to threats of violence. Girls were more likely than boys to fall victim to online stalking and defamation. Boys and girls were equally likely to be affected by threats of violence. Online incidents were relatively more common in the youngest age group (12 to 17 years) than among 18 to 24-year-olds at 6.4 versus 4.4 percent.

3 percent of girls were victims of sexual incidents

Of the respondents, 1.6 percent were involved in a sexual incident and 4.0 percent in a non-sexual incident. Sexual incidents were a much more frequent occurrence among girls (2.8 percent) than among boys (0.5 percent).

More victims among gay or bisexual young people

Among homosexual and bisexual young people, a share of 11.4 percent were involved in online incidents in 2018. This is more than twice as high as among their heterosexual counterparts. Sexual incidents in particular were reported more often by homosexuals and bisexuals (5.3 percent) than by heterosexuals (1.6 percent).

No reporting in most cases

Of the young people who fell victim to online incidents, 43.4 percent felt the emotional consequences after their most recent encounter. They had frequent thoughts about it, did not sleep well or were very angry about it. Nevertheless, almost half of the victims (48.9 percent) indicated that, although they felt it was an act of wrongdoing, they did not consider it a criminal offence. The incident was described as a coincidence by 11.3 percent, while 7.5 percent blamed themselves for it. However, a small group (4.1 percent) would describe the incident as a criminal offence.

Of the young people, 8.0 percent notified the police or another institution and 36.7 percent informed their family, friends or a teacher. Eventually, 4.8 percent officially reported the incident to the police.