Gay, bisexual young people over twice as likely to be harassed, stalked online

Gay and bisexual young people were more than twice as likely to be bullied, stalked or threatened online than their heterosexual counterparts last year, Statistics Netherlands reports based on a survey among 38 thousand internet users between the ages of 12 and 25 years. Among all young people, regardless of sexual orientation, girls were bothered online almost twice as often as boys.

Last year 11.4 percent of gay or bisexual young people dealt with online incidents like threats, bullying or stalking. Among heterosexual young people, 5 percent experienced such incidents. Especially sexual incidents were reported more often by gay or bisexual young people than by their heterosexual peers, 5.3 percent and 1.6 percent respectively. 

5.3 percent of all young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years in the Netherlands said that they were bullied, stalked or threatened online in 2018. That is more than 140 thousand young people. Girls had to deal with this almost twice as often as boys, 7.1 percent against 3.6 percent. Sexually-related incidents were also considerably more common among girls than boys, with 2.8 percent of girls reporting sexual incidents online and 0.5 percent of boys. 

These incidents had an emotional impact on many of the victims. 43.4 percent of young people reported that they regularly thought about the incident, slept badly, or became very angry about it. Despite this, 48.9 percent indicated that they considered the incident wrong, but not a crime. 11.3 percent described the incident as a coincidence and 7.5 percent blamed themselves. Only 4.1 percent thought the incident was a crime.

Only 8 percent of victims reported the incident to the police or other authorities. 36.7 percent told a family member, friend or teacher about it. 4.8 percent of this group eventually went to the police.