New Zealand Law Society - Survey shows widespread online harassment of men in NZ

Survey shows widespread online harassment of men in NZ

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Research has shown that 72% of New Zealand men under 30 and 58% of all New Zealand men have experienced some form of online harassment.

The findings have been released by Norton by Symantec. It follows similar research released in July 2016 on Online Harrassment - The New Zealand Women's Experience. The survey, carried out in February 2016, interviewed 536 women.

A press release summarising the results of the research on men shows that common forms of online harassment range from abuse and insults (35%), trolling (27%), threats of violence (21%), and death threats (14%).

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"The Norton survey reveals there are some risk factors that make some men more vulnerable to online harassment than their other male counterparts," says Norton security expert Mark Shaw. 

"Men from minority religious beliefs are attacked because of their faith in 21% of cases; gay, bisexual and transgender men are targeted because of their sexual orientation in 23% of cases, compared with 8% of heterosexual men; and men with disabilities are attacked because of their physical or intellectual disabilities in 15% of cases."

He says most of the men in the survey ignore (45%), block (37%) or unfriend (28%) perpetrators. However, 10% of men indicated they felt powerless to do anything, 8% reported the activity to police, 8% sought legal advice, and 4% threatened legal action.

Men may be attacked online for a range of reasons. In nearly half of cases no specific aspect of a person's lifestyle or circumstances are singled out. When aspects are targeted, top issues include physical appearance (14%), weight issues (10%), race and ethnic background (13%), religion (10%), sexual orientation (11%), and learning difficulties and mental illness (6%).

Comparing the results of the two surveys, Norton says there were striking differences with online harassment:

Gender-based online harassment is more common in females than males. 18% of New Zealand women are more likely to be attacked online because of their gender, compared with 8% of New Zealand males.

Despite men acknowledging a broad range of behaviours which qualify as harassment - abuse, threats of physical and sexual violence as well as death - men (56%) are less likely than women (70%) to identify online harassment as a serious problem.

Norton says New Zealand men and women (60%) generally agree that the problem is getting worse, and both believe that the problem has got worse since last year.