~ By Colette
With all the attention being given to internet harassment, bullying, and sexual solicitations, I have often wondered how this type of victimization differs from “in person” victimization, and whether different youth are being impacted by online vs. offline victimization. Thus, a recent article by Kimberly Mitchell and colleagues at the Crimes against Children Research Center immediately caught my eye. I have worked with Dr. Mitchell and her colleagues on a couple occasions for The Prevention Researcher and know her work to be very compelling.
Using data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, Dr. Mitchell and her colleagues focused on youth ages 10-17 (n=2,051) asking about their online victimization (both online sexual solicitation and online harassment) as well as offline victimization (including, but not limited to, physical assault, property damage/theft, maltreatment, and sexual victimization).
In a nutshell, the results of the survey found:
The authors summarize by noting that: “although online victimization has been one of the most publicized forms of youth victimization of late, it actually affects a relatively small segment of the population in comparison with victimization like face-to-face assaults, child maltreatment, and property crimes. Moreover, it does not occur in isolation.” (pg. 132)
In conclusion, they note that awareness of and prevention funding for online victimization should not overshadow prevention of a broader array of victimization that youth experience. The real concern should be youth who experience multiple forms of victimization. It could be, the authors suggest, that the distinctions between online and offline victimization are becoming irrelevant as youth today view online experiences as just another form of interaction.
The article, “Youth internet victimization in a broader victimization context,” appeared in the most recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health (2011). It is currently available for free from the publisher.
Colette Kimball, MPH, is Associate Editor for The Prevention Researcher.