Self-reported Internet victimization in Canada

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Results from the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization show that 7% of adult Internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life.

The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims. Slightly more than half (55%) of victims had been the target of hateful comments, while for about 8%, the victim's identity had been assumed by someone sending threatening e-mails.

About 1 in 10 adults reported that a child aged 8 to 17 living in their household had been a victim of cyber-bullying. In about 7 in 10 cases, the victim was female.

Relatively few incidents of cyber-bullying were reported to police. However, those that targeted children were more commonly reported than those that targeted adults (14% versus 7%).

The survey also showed that among Canadians who had used the Internet in the 12 months prior to the survey, 4% reported being the victim of bank fraud on the Internet. In this survey, Internet bank fraud was defined as incidents where credit or debit cards (or information from them) were used from an Internet source to make purchases or withdraw money without authorization from the cardholder.

Of those who reported making online purchases, 14% encountered problems. Incidents reported most often involved not receiving goods or services that had already been paid for, receiving goods or services that were not as described on the website or having extra funds taken from their account.

About 1 in 6 Internet users indicated that they had come across content that promoted hate or violence. Most often, this content targeted ethnic or religious groups.

Note: This release is based upon a Juristat article that presents findings on cyber-bullying, Internet bank fraud, problems with Internet purchases and hate content on the Internet. It analyzes the characteristics associated with such incidents, including the socio-demographic risk factors, reporting to authorities and perceptions of general safety on the Internet.

Data are drawn from the General Social Survey on Victimization last conducted in 2009 on a sample of Canadians aged 15 and older living in the provinces. It is important to note that data are based upon the perceptions of individuals and should not be compared with police-reported data that may measure related concepts.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4504.

The Juristat article "Self-reported Internet victimization in Canada, 2009" (85-002-X, free), is now available. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and Justice, and Juristat.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (toll-free 1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.