WHO@ Shows How Online Trends Have Changed In the Past 12 Years

February 22, 2012 – Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHO@) released their 2011 cyberstalking statistics, as well as cumulative statistics for the past 12 years (2000-2011). WHO@ is the oldest and largest all-volunteer online safety organization that has been continuously helping adult victims of cyberstalking since 1997. WHO@ is the only organization to provide the most up-to-date cyberstalking statistics and cumulative trends.

It is important to understand that WHO@ statistics are not based on the total number of cases handled during the year. Criteria is distinguished by victims who fill out all of the voluntary demographic information in the questionnaires provided on the WHO@ web site at haltabuse.org. Those completed questionnaires ensure comparable, verified and meaningful statistics.

According to WHO@ 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 December 31, 2011, that number has grown to 6,930,055,154 representing an acceleration of 528.1%, so it’s pretty clear the internet is continuing to grow and, therefore, internet harassment and cybercrime will continue to grow correspondingly.”

Since WHO@ began compiling completed questionnaires in 2000, the total so far is 3,393 cases, of which 305 fully completed questionnaires were recorded in 2011. Although females are still the primary victims, they did show a decrease of 4% compared to 2009.

The statistics for 2011 and cumulative are available in .pdf format on the WHO@ web site at haltabuse.org.

Highlights of the statistics for 2011 are:

WHO@ has seen the gap between male and female harassers decrease to the point where in 2011, they were about the same 40% males, 33.5% females (the rest were unknown to the victim). This shows that the perceived anonymity of the Internet allows females to feel they can harass and stalk online without punishment. When WHO@ started calculating statistics in 2000, 68% of the harassers were male.

Almost 60% of victims had a relationship to the harasser, of which 56% were exes, followed by family, friends, online acquaintances, work, school and neighbors (in that order)

Although email was the primary way the harassment began (as it has been for all 12 years), it was followed by Facebook, web sites (such as yelp, ripoffreports, topix, mylife), texting, then message boards. In 2010, it was email followed by Facebook, message boards, instant messaging, web sites, Myspace, and texting

80% of the cases escalated, primarily by telephone at 27%, more than double from the prior year, followed by email, Facebook, texting, web sites, message boards and blogs.

Surprisingly, the number of offline threats was only 7%, compared to 26% in 2010.

More victims reported the harassment prior to coming to WHO@ for help, almost 80%, with just over half of them sending complaints to ISPs, followed by 41% going to law enforcement for help and the rest calling lawyers for advice.

Over 60% of the cases were resolved by WHO@, lower than the year prior, but found that just over 7% were not cases (usually mutual bickering with the other party), 8% did not reply, over 2% resolved on their own and just over 1% were Nigerian scams. Of the cases that WHO@ resolved, the majority were through communication with the ISP/web site host/moderator or the victim made changes to their accounts and profiles to stop the harassment.

Top Ten Locations for Victims and Harassers:
Victims Harassers
1. California California
2. Texas Texas
3. Florida Pennsylvania
4. New York New York
5. England Florida
6. Pennsylvania England
7. N. Carolina N. Carolina
8. Washington Illinois
9. Maryland Ohio
10. Virginia Canada

The rest of the statistics can be viewed at haltabuse.org

WHO@ is the oldest and largest all-volunteer online safety organization helping adult victims of online harassment and cyber stalking since February, 1997. WHO@-KTD (Kids/Teen Division) 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 WHO@, or if you know someone who needs help, please visitwww.haltabuse.org and www.haltabusektd.org. Get involved with WHO@ athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/113876081404/ and WHO@-KTD athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/97745043769/. WHO@’s mascot, Phoebe the Cyber Crime Dog, offers advice and help for kids, teens and adults athttp://www.facebook.com/phoebe.crimedog, as well as fun info about her life as a retired sled dog in Maine. Phoebe accompanies WHO@ president Jayne Hitchcock to schools to show kids and teens how to stay safe from cyber bullies.

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, and raises awareness of cybercrime and harassment. She also 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 Swift Justice, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, PEOPLE magazine, TIME magazine, the Associated Press, Cosmopolitan magazine, 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 later this year.