The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) reports that during the the first half of the year, there were 3,145 cases of unlawful threats, which represents a 22 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
The number of cases of harassment of those under the age of 18 was 2,382, nearly 35 percent higher than last year, writes Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).
“The internet has become an arena where young people are subject to attacks, threats, and sexual abuse,” said Brå's Felipe Estrada to SvD.
Through internet chat sites, virtual guest books, and email, messages and pictures can be uploaded and quickly spread to thousands of users.
Phrases such as “I'm going to kill you, I know where you live” or “I'm going to beat you to death” are not uncommon, writes SvD.
Brå doesn't break down the statistics according to the type of threat, but of the cases in which young people turned to Sweden's Children's Rights in Society (Barnens rätt i samhället – Bris), 15 percent were related to threats or attacks which took place via text messages or the internet.
And in one of every six cases, the threat was eventually carried out.
“Adults are quite absent which is odd. Many youth check around on the internet when it comes to mental health and they have only their peers to ask. They're giving the finger to the formal adult world,” said Thomas Jonsland from Bris, to SvD.