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Online Harassment and Victimization of College Students

NCJ Number
Justice Policy Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2010
M. Alexis Kennedy; Melanie A. Taylor
Date Published
21 pages
This study explored whether young people experienced greater rates of victimization such as harassment, stalking, and exposure to sexual predators from individuals they met online through social networking sites compared to individuals they met offline.
The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of victimization occurring through social networking sites. Information was also sought on the internet behavior of college students. Data were collected from 354 college students from September 2007 through April 2008. Anonymous, self-report surveys were completed polling experiences with harassment, stalking, and sexual assault. Analyses showed that the majority of victimization types were reported infrequently, while rates of sexual assault overall were quite high compared to prior research. The types of victimization varied by where they were occurring - online or offline. Acts such as verbal harassment, pestering, unwanted behaviors, and sexual harassment were all fairly prevalent online, while other victimizations, such as being threatened or stalked, occurred more offline. The rates of victimization initiated through online contact suggest that although social networking sites may provide opportunities for certain types of victimization, college students are still at a greater risk from people they meet offline. (Published Abstract)