WHO@ 2009 Cyberstalking Statistics Press Release

Press Contacts:
Jayne Hitchcock,
President of WHOA
dee Andersson
WHOA Press Release #2010-2


WHOA Shows How Online Trends Have Changed In the Past Ten Years

March, 2010 - Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) released their 2009 cyberstalking statistics today, as well as cumulative statistics for the past ten years, from 2000-2009. WHOA is the oldest and largest all-volunteer online safety organization that has been continuously helping adult victims of cyberstalking since 1997. WHOA is the only online organization to provide the most up-to-date cyberstalking statistics and cumulative trends.

It is important to understand that WHOA statistics are not based on the total number of cases handled during the year. WHOA proprietary statistics represent complaints where victims actually completed questionnaires in their entirety. Criteria is distinguished because it comes only from those victims who fill out all of the voluntary demographic information in the questionnaires provided on the WHOA web site at haltabuse.org. Restricting the criteria used to completed, uniform cases helps to ensure comparable, verified and meaningful statistics.

According to WHOA president Jayne Hitchcock, “based on the individual needs of each victim, we work directly with law enforcement, victim assistance organizations and lawyers making every effort we can to help and support those who come to us for guidance. According to Internet World Statistics on December 31st, 2000 there were 360,985,492 Internet Users and as of February 12th, 2010 that number has grown to 1,733,993,741 representing an acceleration of 380.3% so it’s pretty clear the internet is still growing and internet harassment is not likely to lessen in the foreseeable future.”

WHOA has developed a database of reliable cyberstalking demographic criteria based on the information it received from victims and, while absolute verification is not 100% possible, the data from victims is considered to be credible and realistic. Since WHOA began compiling completed questionnaires in 2000, the total so far is 2,739 cases, of which 220 occurred in 2009. Females are still the primary victims with a 7% increase over 2008, but the gap between male and female harassers is rapidly shrinking as the years go by and now there is only a 10% difference, when in the beginning, almost all the harassers were male. Trends in 2009:

• Victims by age groups stayed about the same with the exception of ages 18 to 31, which showed an increase of 7%

• WHOA had more Asian and African-American victims who requested help in 2009 - in the 220 cases, victims by race: Caucasian dropped by 4.5%, Hispanic dropped by 3.5%, Asian and Afro-American victims increased by 4.5% and 4%, respectively; the remainder were Native American, East Indian or unknown

• Single victims increased in 2009 from 31.5% to 43% and married victims showed an increase from 18.5% in 2008 to 27% in 2009

• Victims who knew their harassers in 2009 showed an increase of 4% over 2008 – what was surprising is that family members and students jumped in numbers as harassers;

• Harassment statistics by exes went down by 2% in 2009, however, harassment by friends went up 1.5%, by co-workers it grew 1.5%, and harassment by online acquaintances increased by a dramatic 14% (from 8% to 22%) while family harassment escalated from 8% to 14%.

• As in previous years, the initial harassment began via email first, no matter where they may have encountered their harasser (if they did). Second was IM, message boards, Facebook and web sites. In 2008 it was email, message boards, IM, then Myspace, which shows how Facebook has not only become more popular, but a popular place to harass. It is also interesting that texting, Craigslist, online dating and online games saw a big bump. Breakdown of where harassment started: Email – 34%; MSG Board (Message boards, groups, usenet) – 8.5%; IM – 13%; Chat – 6%; Web Site – 7%; Facebook – 5.5%; Phone – 2.5%; Myspace – 5.5%; Dating – 2.5%; Craigslist – 2.5%; Texting – 2.5%; Gaming – 2.5%; and Other (auctions, blogs, Youtube, Twitter, hacking, mailing list, Juicy Campus) 8.5%

• In cases where harassment escalated online, email was a first choice, followed by message boards, telephone calls, text messages and Facebook

• Threats of offline violence dropped from 25% to 16.5% in 2009

• Victims were good about trying to report harassment themselves before coming to WHOA, but nearly half reported it to police when their cases did not involve anything criminal. 46% reported abuse to the harasser’s ISP, web host, moderator, Facebook, etc., but felt they did not get any results.

• WHOA was able to help victims resolve their cases 77% of the time, meaning that victims listened to WHOA advocates and hopefully learned how to stay safer online in the future. Resolution included having victims change emails/ISP(s)/usernames and/or passwords, contacting the harasser’s ISP(s), web site hosts/owners, Facebook, moderators, social networking sites, etc.

• California held the lead for the 10th year with the highest number of victims at 13% (although that is down 1% from 2008) and the highest number of harassers at 9% (down 4%); Texas moved New York out of 2nd place in 2008 with 7% victims and 5.5% harassers in 2009; New York went down from 7% victims in 2008 to 4% in 2009 and from 12% harassers in 2008 to 4.5% in 2009;

• Only 36% of cases we received found the victim and harasser were in the same state or country, showing that the Internet knows no boundaries when it comes to online harassment and cyberstalking. This is why it's so important that when law enforcement does get involved in a case that they try to work with the other state/country's law enforcement.

WHOA’s president, Jayne A. Hitchcock, is a cybercrime expert who trains law enforcement from the local to federal levels, and assists the US Department of Justice Office (USDJO) for Victims of Crime and National Center for Victims of Crime. She trains advocate groups, conducts seminars, raises awareness of cybercrime and harassment, and lectures educators, librarians, parents and students at middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities about the dangers of cyberbullies, online predators, cyberstalkers and social networking sites. She has appeared as an expert in various media, including America’s Most Wanted, PEOPLE magazine, Primetime Thursday with Diane Sawyer, TIME magazine, the Associated Press, Cosmopolitan magazine, A&E’s Investigative Reports, 48 Hours, Ladies Home Journal, Campus Security Reports, Inside Edition, Good Morning America and CNN. Her latest book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 2nd edition (netcrimes.net), highlights online crimes, how to be safer online and what to do if you are victimized. Video Professor also released a 3-CD tutorial based on the book.

WHOA is the oldest and largest all-volunteer online safety organization helping adult victims of online harassment and cyber stalking since February, 1997. WHOA-KTD was added in 2005 to help online victims under the age of 18, their parents and other adults interested in keeping kids and teens safer online.

To schedule an interview with Hitchcock, contact her at 815-550-5059 or email whoa@haltabuse.org. Statistics may be quoted in media and on web sites with appropriate recognition to WHOA. To learn more about WHOA, or if you know someone who needs help, please visit www.haltabuse.org and www.haltabusektd.org


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