Press release from WHOA
April, 2009 - Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) released their 2008 cyberstalking statistics Thursday, as well as cumulative statistics for the past nine years, from 2000-2008. 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.
WHOA proprietary statistics represent complaints where victims completed questionnaires in their entirety, but the figures do not represent the total number of cases that are brought to WHOA. All criteria gathered are only from victims who fill out the voluntary demographic information in the questionnaires provided on the WHOA web site at haltabuse.org , thus ensuring comparable and meaningful statistics.
“In addition to victim questionnaires, we work on cases directly with law enforcement, on high profile cases we have been directly approached for, or with victim assistance organizations or lawyers,” notes Jayne Hitchcock, WHOA president. “We don’t see online harassment and cyberstalking disappearing anytime in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, creative, clever and skilled perpetrators develop new twists and turns on a daily basis focused to target new victims. This includes, but is not limited to predators, bullies, and scams. More people go online for the first time each and every single day, making them vulnerable to the ‘bad guys’ out there. Currently there are over one billion people online worldwide – if only one percent become victims, that’s ten million people!”
The trust WHOA earns from victims they have helped enables the group to develop reliable cyberstalking demographic numbers. However, as the statistics are generated from information supplied by the victims, verification is not always possible. WHOA bases their cyberstalking statistics on a total of 2,519 completed questionnaires over the past eight years, 234 of those from 2008. Although females are still the primary victims, with males as the primary harassers, male victims and female harassers increased compared to last year. Trends in 2008:
More cases were seen involving Social Networking Sites (ie Facebook and Myspace) and Craigslist
Both Male and Female harassers in 2008 were about dead even for the 2nd year in a row
In 2008 an increase in victims aged 18-30, from 28% to 35%, was seen while 41+ aged victims increased from 29% to 32%, 74% of victims in 2008 were Caucasian, up from 66% last year, with the remainder of victims being spread out between Hispanic, Afro-American, Asian, Native American and Unknowns
Victims who knew their harassers in 2008 jumped a dramatic 13% over 2007
Statistics based on exes rose from 31% in 2007 to 45% in 2008, no doubt due to more exes online, and these figures were influenced by not only ex-spouses or ex-girl/boyfriends, but also new spouses or significant others of exes who harassed victims
The top 10 states with the most victims and harassers included the “usual” suspects with California easily holding onto its top positions for the 8th year in a row with double the percentage over its nearest competitor of New York, although harassers living in New York showed an impressive increase of 6% in 2008 compared to 2007
Email was again the number one method that harassers used to begin their campaign against victims (no matter where they encountered the victim before, online or offline) followed by message boards, instant messaging (IM), phone and Myspace. Other ways victims were harassed were Facebook, Craigslist, YouTube, eBay, texting, blogs, Encyclopedia Dramatica, LiveJournal, Friendster, JuicyCampus (no longer online), online games such as Xbox Live, and Wikipedia. In 2007, the primary was harassment began was email first, followed by message boards, IM, web sites, then chat.
Online Escalation of the harassment rose from 40.5% to 60% between 2004-2005, dropped to 44% in 2006, increased in 2007 to 55% and showed a major jump to 71% in 2008 in this order:
Myspace 8.5% (includes forged profiles as well as messages)
Craigslist 6.5% (mainly forged ads in the victim names)
Web sites 6.5%
Message Boards 6%
Facebook 5.5% (includes forged profiles as well as messages)
An additional 11% of victims reported their harassment before seeking WHOA assistance - in the order of importance they contacted: law enforcement, victim ISPs, web administrators/moderators, Myspace, eBay, Craigslist and others (Facebook, LiveJournal, YouTube, JuicyCampus, apartment manager, Linked In, Photo Site, employer, Xbox Live moderator)
WHOA successfully resolved 75% of the cases they received in 2008. These sometimes involved multiple actions, such as WHOA contacting the ISP, web host, moderator or other online entity; or the victim made changes, such as altering their password to include a combination of letters, numerals and symbols, or the victim made changes to email addresses, user names and various profiles they used online. In the cases that WHOA was unable to resolve, victims were either referred to law enforcement or attorneys and a small percentage of cases resolved on their own or they weren’t really a case (usually spam). 53.5% of cases revealed that victims and harassers did not reside in the same state and/or country.
Jayne A. Hitchcock is a cyber crime 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 cyber crime and harassment and lectures educators, librarians, parents and students at middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities about the dangers of bullies, predators, stalkers and online 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, The Montel Williams Show, 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 recently 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 is also the only online organization able to provide the most up-to-date online harassment and cyber stalking statistics and cumulative trends that are backed by verifiable data. “It’s so important for anyone who is online these days to know that although the Internet is fun and a great resource, it can also be dangerous,” notes Hitchcock. “For a decade, we have dedicated ourselves to not only help victims of online harassment and stalking, but to educate them as well.” WHOA has a strong commitment to improving Internet safety, counseling and helping victims of cyber crime and 2009 will mark nine years of cyberstalking statistics based on real criteria, and tracking trends based on age, gender, racial, and geographical information.
To schedule an interview with Hitchcock, contact her at 207-251-0627 (please note: this phone number is NOT for publication) or email firstname.lastname@example.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