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(Credit: Paolo81/iStockphoto)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg authorities in North Carolina are blaming dating apps like Tinder for a recent rise in sexual assaults. The police in North Carolina told ABC 11 that there have been 20 reported cases of sexual assault after using a dating app in Charlotte. In 2017, only 15 cases had been reported.

Police said the reported assaults were connected to apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Hinge, and Plenty of Fish.

"I don't find any company responsible for anything that happened," CMPD Lt. Muriel Huges told the Charlotte Observer. "It is solely on the individual that preyed upon the person that they met."

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Despite the dangers that are associated with mobile dating apps, blaming a fluctuation in cases cannot be solidly correlated to apps.

If authorities want to blame dating apps, they must start at the beginning: Match.com in 1995. Of course, at the time, Match.com wasn't always in a user's pocket on a smartphone. People were still looking for love online, though.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reported that overall reported cases of sexual assault have fallen from 1994 to 2014. In that period of time, Match.com launched in 1995 and Tinder arrived in 2012. Between 2003 to 2016, instances of sexual assault have fluctuated between about 300,000 to 400,000 cases per year.

Dating apps might provide an easier way for people with sinister motives to meet potential victims, but those people have always been around.

Adrena Harrell, a dating app user, said she felt more comfortable before meeting someone in person because of the communication options in the app.

Removing yourself from a dating app will not likely reduce the risk of going out with someone new, whether on a traditional date or for a one night stand.

Even if you meet someone in person and feel like you know them, there's still a risk for intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

The cases that are mentioned in statistics are only the ones that are reported to authorities. That fact makes it more difficult to track the true number of incidents, define a trend, or point to a catalyst.

In other words, a spike or drop in sexual assault is difficult to correlate with the rise of dating apps. Nevertheless, people should take extra precaution with online dating because not everyone is who they depict themselves to be in various digital spaces.

And it's always important to remember that the main cause of sexual assault is the individual that commits the heinous crime, and not the actions of the victim--whether using an app or meeting people in traditional ways, no one wants to be assaulted.

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(Credit: RAINN)


Takeaways

  1. Authorities in North Carolina are blaming dating apps like Tinder for a recent rise in sexual assaults. Police said 2018 has seen 20 cases from people using apps. Last year saw 15.
  2. RAINN reported that sexual assaults have been on the downward trend and holding. Online dating services have been around for more than 20 years, weakening the argument that the apps are the problem.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.