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In the US, overall incidents of sexual violence have fallen by 63% since 1993, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.By contrast, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded an increase in sexual assaults since 2012.The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves.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.But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.Is this scaremongering, or is online dating truly putting users in danger?
A local council member in Manchester, in the north of England, Leech this year launched a campaign to make online dating companies commit to keeping their users safer.
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.
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