SafeWise and Highspeedinternet have teamed up to analyze and review the most recent FBI violent crime and cyber crime data along with state by state STD rates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This data was used to correlate to online dating and the safety of which by a state by state basis. The report was released in January of 2017. In addition to finding the most dangerous states, the study also discovered the safest states for online dating.
Alaska was named the second most dangerous state for online daters behind the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia’s rates per capita in both the violent crime and STD categories are nearly double the rates of Alaska.
Alaska is noted to have no required sex education, specifically about contraception, and the second highest rating of violent crime per capita, just behind District of Columbia.
“SafeWise thinks that compiling this data is important because we want to promote community safety in America. Often times people become victims of crime because they are unaware of the dangers in their areas and we want to make sure they have all of the knowledge to combat crime,” Sarah Brown, community outreach for SafeWise said. “We hope that this report will encourage people to take more precautions when meeting people from online.”
UAA journalism student Paris Leigh, notes that people should take caution when online dating in any state. Leigh has a set of guidelines she follows in an effort to have a safe dating experience.
“I was always really cautious and paranoid. I never let them pick me up at my house for at least the first couple dates. You just never know, if something went wrong I didn’t want them knowing where I lived.” Leigh said. “When we matched I looked for what I called ‘creeper characteristics.’ I would want to talk to them for a few days before we met in person, just to get a feel. Some of them did not like that. They would get really pushy and try and guilt me into moving up our first meet.”
Noticing these characteristics helped Leigh decide if she would continue seeing someone.
“If we did get to the meetup stage I always made it somewhere very public, restaurants really. And again as paranoid as this sounds, I always tried to park right next to the building or under a light so if they decided to walk me to my car I was visible,” Leigh said.
Leigh isn’t the only one to notice poor lighting around Anchorage and the effect it has when meeting up with strangers.
“In Alaska, we have a very unique situation, especially with not having a lot of lit places. The city is not very well lit, even where you park. That’s where I remember thinking like, ‘oh my god, I’m going to die here,'” Zhenia Peterson, UAA social work graduate and social worker in Alaska, said.
Peterson has used online dating apps, such as Tinder, in and outside of Alaska.
“The men I’ve dated outside of Alaska… it’s completely different. Men are more willing to go out and meet in public places,” Peterson said.
When using Tinder here in Alaska, Leigh eventually found her strict “creeper checklist” couldn’t filter out everything.
“There was this one guy who had dodged all my ‘creeper radar’ until I met him. He was asking me questions about my health, families health. But he was very smooth, so I think someone who wasn’t looking for these signs might have missed them. Then when we walked out of the date he suggested that we go back to his place and I take a bath with some wine and he’d just leave me alone,” Leigh said. “I was so creeped out. I texted my friend my safety word and she called with an emergency so I could get out of there.”
Shiloh Teddy, a UAA culinary student, had to create a similar regimen when meeting people online.
“I felt very wary. I waited a while to meet up and if I didn’t feel right about it I didn’t go. It’s much safer and smarter. I also had to be allowed to see their Facebook first. And let at least one other person know your meeting with someone you’ve met online,” Teddy said.
Teddy carries a taser on her person for extra safety.
“I think Alaska is safer in some ways, like that women here seem to be better armed and defended, I carry a taser for instance,” Teddy said.
Lee Piltz, a former staff reporter at The Northern Light and UAA communications student, has felt safe online dating in Alaska.
“For the most part, I have felt safe. There have been one or two dates I’ve gone on where I wasn’t totally comfortable, but I attribute that to nerves,” Piltz said. “However, it almost feels as though the people I go out with using these apps see me as a threat.”
Piltz has noticed women on the dates are more cautious and concerned when meeting for the first time.
“As a guy, I can understand that crime has increased in Anchorage lately and a lot of people are very concerned. Add that to the fact that I’m a bigger guy and I can see how people would have hesitations to trust me. Especially if we’ve just met. But it does concern me,” Piltz said. “I’m just on these apps to date and maybe meet some friends or possibly a significant other. I know some guys, the scumbags as I call them, are just looking for hookups or to try and take advantage of someone, and it makes dating harder for the good guys as it can make a potential date nervous or even frightened.”
Safety precautions should be taken when online dating in any state. Knowing your state’s statistics and understanding the risks in your local area can be an advantage for judging potentially dangerous situations.