FixedIt: invisible perpetrators can’t be stopped

Scottish newspaper, The Herald, provided a detailed analysis of a huge increase in serious crimes over the last few years. The headline focused entirely on the victims. The perpetrators of these crimes – overwhelmingly male – were invisible.

It’s obviously important to ensure young girls are aware of the dangers of online crimes and given adequate strategies to protect themselves. But talking to the victims of such crimes is not going to solve the problem. They don’t commit the crimes, they don’t have a choice about being the victims of crime and there’s nothing they can do to prevent the crimes. Focussing solely on the victims is implicit victim blaming.

Targeting young men who commit such crimes are the only possible means of prevention. Apparently young men need to be told that sending unsolicited sexual images, stalking, harassing and threatening women and girls online is not ok. That this needs to be explained to such a widespread audience is a problem in itself, but it should, at the very least, be the starting point.

It’s worth noting that the text of the article does recognise this. It’s the headline, the thing that keeps FixedIt so busy, that is the problem.

The article states:

The number of rapes recorded in 2016-17 was up, but only very slightly.

However, the category of “other sex crimes”, which includes many cyber-enabled offences, rose by 50 per cent from 2,901 in 2013/14 to 4,360 by 2016/17.

The research estimates around half of the growth in all sexual crimes recorded by the police over the period is due to growth in cyber-enabled offences.

Analysis shows the growth has been driven by large increases in the crimes of “communicating indecently” (up from 605 to 1,166) and “causing to view sexual activity or images” (from 229 to 1,030), with these categories now accounting for 20 per cent of all sexual crimes.

Researchers looked at in more details at the make-up of victims and perpetrators of two offences, communicating indecently or causing to view indecent images, where the offences were “cyber-enabled”, carried out using a phone or computer link. It was specifically for these crimes that victims proved to be young, with a median age of 14 and nearly three-quarters of those affected under 16.

For all the entire category of “other sex crimes”, nearly four-fifths of victims were female and three-fifths were under 16, while the vast majority of perpetrators were male.

Mr Matheson said: “The sexual crimes research makes clear that more work is required to understand why particularly young males are behaving in this way and to prevent sexual offending.

“While we have taken considerable steps in this area, such as our recent ‘intimate images’ campaign, the national action plan on internet safety and our ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, I am bringing together an expert group to identify further steps needed to better-tackle and ultimately prevent such offending.”

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron


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