What Do We Know About Online Harassment?

A survey released by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday offers some insight into harassment online. But will it help us fix the problem?

The survey found that while men were more likely than women to be harassed on the Internet — 44 percent reported some form of harassment, compared with 37 percent of women — women were more likely to be sexually harassed or stalked. And women between the ages of 18 to 24 were especially vulnerable — 26 percent said they’d experienced stalking online, and 25 percent said they’d experienced sexual harassment.

At The Atlantic, Jake Swearingen interprets the results thus:

“The findings evoke the axiom, widely attributed to Margaret Atwood: ‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.’ Men, on the whole, report higher rates of less severe types of harassment (with the exception of physical threats), while women are more likely to be the focus of the two most frightening forms of it: sexual harassment and stalking.”

But, he says, it doesn’t have to be this way: “Human behavior — and the limits placed on it by both law and society — can change.” He talks to Danielle Citron, a law professor and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” who notes that workplace sexual harassment, once dismissed as “flirting,” is now taken much more seriously. <Read more.>

Via Anna North, The New York Times.

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