The study differentiates between "less severe" and "more severe" forms of harassment. While the former includes things like name calling, the latter includes stalking and death threats. According to the study, of those who claim to be victims of harassment, 45 percent claim to fall into the "more severe" category. Those rates are especially high among young women, the study finds, as 26 percent of female Internet users polled claimed to have been stalked online, while 25 percent claim to have been the target of online sexual harassment.
That said, harassment is also quite common among young men, though the study finds that most harassment aimed at men falls into the "less severe" category of name calling and attempts to embarass. Sexual harassment was reported by only four percent of male respondents.
Who's to blame for all this ill will? Malevolent strangers, apparently. 38 percent of respondents claimed a stranger was responsible for their harassment while an additional 26 percent did not know the identity of their attacker.
Pew Research admits its study has an error rate of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, and that its respondents were drawn from a 2,849 person-strong "nationally representative panel of randomly selected adults." Still, even with conservative estimates, these figures demonstrate that online harassment is worryingly common, though that should be evident if you've been paying attention lately.
Edit: This post initially stated that Pew Research based its study on self-selected respondents when in fact the study was based on a "a nationally representative panel of randomly selected adults."
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