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Young people more exposed to online hate than national average: Statistics Canada

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More than 70 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were exposed to online hate and violence in 2022, according to a new report issued by Statistics Canada.

The agency defined this type of online content as terrorist content or violence towards ethnic groups.

The report, published Tuesday, uses data from the Canadian Social Survey, the Canadian Internet Use Survey, the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces, and the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. The date covers the period between 2018 and 2022.

Canadians aged 15 to 24 were the most likely to be exposed to online hate, with 71 per cent reporting seeing media that may incite hate or violence, compared to the national average of 49 per cent. Young people with a disability were 2.5 times more likely to be exposed to online hate compared to those without a disability.

Cyber-related hate crimes, defined as hatred toward a person because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity or religion, increased from 92 reported incidents in 2018 to 219 incidents in 2022. The most common cyber-related hate crimes were those targeting Black people and a person's sexual orientation, followed by those that targeted the Jewish population.

The report notes that while virtual hate crimes go underreported, police-reported cases provide a snapshot of what kind of crimes are committed and the demographics of victims.

"Of the cyber-related hate crimes that took place from 2018 to 2022, 82 per cent were violent and 18 per cent were non-violent," reads the report.

Among those who reported hate crimes to police, the age group that represented the highest proportion of victims were Canadians aged 12 to 17, at 23 per cent.

The main perpetrators of online hate crimes were boys and men, who represented 87 per cent of the suspects or people charged in these cases. Teenage boys, in particular, were six times more likely to perpetrate cyber-related hate crimes than teenage girls were.

Women are also more likely to be pressured into sending explicit content online.

"In addition, among young people aged 15 to 24, women (25 per cent) were two and a half times as likely as men (10 per cent) to receive unsolicited sexually suggestive or explicit images or messages," reads the report.

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