Even though online dating has become more common, the Crime Victims Institute at Sam Houston State University warns that becoming a victim through dating is still highly possible.
The CVI published a study comparing the dating safety and victimization rates between traditional relationships and online relationships.
According to Molly Smith, one of the doctoral student researchers for the study, one of the main focuses in the study was that regardless of how people meet, the rate of victimization was very close. She urged people, especially SHSU students, to remain aware when entering dating scenarios and to always be cautious.
“Use your better judgment when going on dates with anyone, regardless of how you met them,” Smith said. “Even if you have met someone in person, you are still at risk of victimization.”
Maria Koeppel, another doctoral student researcher, said that while online dating has become socially acceptable, people have to remember how important it is to think of safety measures when going on a date with someone they met online. She said it is important for everyone in the dating world, but should especially be emphasized to the younger dating population like people in high school.
“As society is becoming more technology based, education about online dating, as well as continued information about traditional dating, needs to be stressed to high school kids and even preteens,” Koeppel said. “Even a segment incorporated into a health class specific to the dangers of online dating would be helpful.”
For college students, Koeppel said that they should make smart decisions when choosing who to meet or date.
“Just be smart when going into dating situations or trying to find someone to date,” Koeppel said. “Don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone. Many dating situations in college tend to be fueled by alcohol or drugs, so be smart.”
According to the study, online daters tended to have a slightly lower victimization rate than traditional daters.
Smith attributed the results to factors such as people paying higher amounts of attention when dating on the internet.
“People who seek out potential partners on the internet seem to exhibit higher levels of caution and utilize more protective measures,” Smith said. “In addition, many people who use online dating sites tend to [talk to] their potential partner for a longer period of time prior to meeting them in person, thus making them more aware of potential “red flags” that might arise in a face-to-face situation.”
Smith advised that students should make sure to take a fully charged cell phone when going on a date, and should always tell a friend about their plans.