WHO@ Releases 2010 Cyberstalking Statistics
WHOA Shows How Online Trends Have Changed In the Past 11 Years
March 3, 2011 - Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) released their 2010 cyberstalking statistics, as well as cumulative statistics for the past 11 years, from 2000-2010. 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 and Maine resident 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 January 1st, 2011, that number has grown to 1,966,514,816 representing an acceleration of 444.8% so it’s pretty clear the internet is continuing to grow and, therefore, internet harassment and cybercrime will continue to grow correspondingly.”
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 3,088 cases, of which 349 completed questionnaires were recorded in 2010. Although females are still the primary victims, they did show a decrease of 5% compared to 2009.
The statistics for 2010 and cumulative are available in .pdf format on our web site at haltabuse.org.
Of the 349 cases in 2010:
There is an ever decreasing gap between male and female harassers – 2010 saw them as being almost even, similar to 2009, whereas back in 2000 when we first started calculating statistics the majority of harassers were male - 68%; we also saw a bit of an increase in 2010 of gangs or husband/wife teams being the harassers at 3%.
Victims by age stayed about the same with two exceptions: the primary target group was ages 18 to 30, showing a 6% increase, while the next largest victim age group of 41+ showed a decrease from 2009 by 4.5%
Marital status groups did not vary much from 2009 either: the majority of victims were single (45.5%), followed by married (28.25%), divorced (11.5%), separated (4.25%) or life partners (2.5%) with the remaining 8% unknown
The majority of victims who sought help from WHOA, were Caucasian (66.5%) but they were down 3% from 2009; of all races in the study (Asian, African-American, Native American, East Indian) only the Hispanic victims showed an increase, of 2%, compared to 2009
47% of victims acknowledged a prior relationship with their harasser in 2010, compared to 61% in 2009
As expected, when the victim knew their harasser, 55% were primarily an ex or the wife/girlfriend of an ex (not boyfriend/husband, interestingly), followed by online acquaintance, work, friend/ex-friend, family, school (usually a fellow student) and WHOA saw a few cases involving landlord/tenant disputes, neighbors and businesses being targeted by customers
Every year WHOA has recorded statistics, the primary way harassment began, no matter how they knew the person, was via email. Last year this was followed by Facebook (a first), then message boards, telephone, IM, web sites (usually created to specifically harass the victim) and Myspace. New ways harassers did their deed included bogus claims on Ripoff Reports, Youtube, Twitter, Formspring, Skype, Ustream, Yelp and Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Almost 80% of cases escalated online. The primary way was via email, 18%, followed closely by Facebook,15%, (either wall posts or profiles forged in the victim's name), telephone, 12% and texting, 11%, followed to a lesser degree by Myspace, web sites, chat, blogs, message boards, Craigslist, Ripoff Reports, Youtube, Classmates.com and Photobucket.
26% of victims reported offline/physical violence or threats, an increase of almost 10% over 2009
Fewer victims reported their harassment before coming to us for help, only 61% compared to 72% last year
If they did, over half reported it to law enforcement, followed by ISPs/web site hosts/moderators
WHOA resolved over 75% of the cases. If they could not be resolved, they were sent to law enforcement first, the harassment stopped on its own, several cases were just Nigerian scam/lottery emails, some wouldn’t take our advice, it was not actual harassment, or we referred them to an attorney. A handful did not reply, which usually meant the harassment stopped, or the victim took matters into their own hands by changing their email addresses.
Of the cases WHOA resolved, the primary way was contacting the ISP/web site host/moderator, followed by the victim making changes to privacy/account settings, changing their email address, etc.
California was number one for victims for the 11th year in a row with 9.75%, following by New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Canada, Massachusetts, Washington state and Maryland
Harassers were primarily from Texas, followed by California, New York, Canada, Florida, Illinois, England, Washington state, Tennessee and Pennsylvania
Only 34.5% of the victims lived in the same state or country their harasser was from
Hitchcock volunteers with the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and numerous law enforcement agencies worldwide. She is a valued resource to these agencies in the solving of Internet related crimes. Additionally, she trains advocate groups, conducts seminars, raises awareness of cybercrime and harassment, and lectures educators, librarians, parents and students at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities about the dangers of cyber bullies, online predators, cyber stalkers, sexting and social networking sites.
Hitchcock has appeared as an expert in various media, including Nancy Grace’s Swift Justice, 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. Jayne’s ninth book, True Crime Online: Most Shocking Stories from the Dark Side of the Web is due out in the fall of 2011.
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 learn more about WHOA, or if you know someone who needs help, please visit www.haltabuse.org and www.haltabusektd.org.