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Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Health Threat on the Rise -- Online Harassment

Harassment of online Internet users is not only on the rise, it is now considered common. A study by the Pew Research Centers shows that about 75 percent of adult Internet users have seen harassment, and 40 percent have been victims of online harassment. Although considered common, it should by no means be taken lightly.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who uses the Internet is at risk for online harassment. However, the study shows that those who are most likely to be targeted are young adults between the ages of 18-29. Women are particularly affected by online harassment. But anyone who posts a lot of information about themselves online increases their risk for online harassment.

Harassment can take many forms ranging from name calling to outright death threats. It can also include sexual harassment and stalking. According to the Pew study, people who work in the tech industry or promote themselves through the Internet are at greater risk for harassment.

How dangerous is online harassment?

The Internet presents an opportunity for perpetrators to harass anonymously, making it easy for them to get away with it. Although many online forms of harassment are taken lightly, all forms of harassment should be taken seriously. Why? As a nursing professor at Villanova University who studies online aggression, Elizabeth Dowdell stated, "People look for outlets for aggression and the Internet is a wonderful place because it's anonymous and you don't have to be truthful." Thirty-eight percent of those who are harassed do not know who is sending the harassment. In addition, no one can really know how serious any harasser is, so all forms of harassment should taken seriously.

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