The danger of dating online
In the US, the FBI collects data about so-called romance fraud and about online “sexploitation,” but data about physical assault linked to dating sites is scant.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the US government, last collected data in 2011 and will publish an update this year, but doesn’t ask questions about online dating.
John Leech thinks the situation is new, and dangerous.
The trouble is that statistics on crimes linked to online dating are sparse.
In 2016, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) released findings on data from police forces around the country. Not all the forces collect data specific to dating apps.
In the absence of hard data, it’s anecdotes that shape the conversation about online dating safety.
In 2016 Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.
Over the past four years, 17 people in the Greater Manchester area have reported being raped after using one of two apps, Grindr and Tinder, according to police statistics obtained by Leech through a freedom of information request.
A total of 58 people were victims of online dating-related crimes in those four years, some of them sexual. For context, in 2012 the area had an overall average of 243 sexual assaults and rapes every month.)Many apps offer a page of advice for safe dating.
Nevertheless, while app-related assaults were still rare, they were rising fast enough for the NCA to flag the emergence of “a new type of sexual offender.” Usually a man, he’s less likely than other sexual offenders to have committed any kind of crime before, but instead exploits the “ease of access and arm-chair approach” to meeting people that dating sites enable.
Of course, sexual assaults related to online dating may be on the rise just because online dating itself is on the rise.
Not all people who report attacks mention whether an app was involved.
Victims, as well as perpetrators, hide crimes: Only an estimated 17% of all rapes, app-linked or not, are reported to police, the NCA said.
Not all countries in which sites operate have databases such as Match’s, however, and even those that exist tend to have incomplete data.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating