8.2 Focus on harassment and discrimination
This section reports on adults' experiences of harassment and discrimination, by examining whether they had any incidents in which they were insulted, pestered or intimidated in any way (in person or some other means) by someone outwith their household in the year prior to interview.
These findings are based on questions asked to one-quarter of the overall sample. As agreed with SCJS users, quarter-sample results are generally not broken down within the report for population sub-groups. However, some breakdowns are presented here for illustration. All results for demographic and area characteristics are provided in the 2018/19 SCJS online data tables.
How common were experiences of harassment in Scotland in 2018/19?
Most adults did not experience being insulted, pestered, or intimidated in 2018/19.
In 2018/19, 12% of adults said that they had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in the previous year, in line with the proportion of respondents who experienced such incidents in 2008/09 and 2017/18.
Younger adults were more likely to have experienced harassment than older adults (26% of 16-24 year olds compared to 14% of 25-44 year olds, 12% of 45-59 year olds and 6% of people aged 60 and over).
What can the SCJS tell us about the nature of harassment?
Generally experiences of harassment in 2018/19 took place in person, with verbal abuse the most common behaviour encountered.
Of those who said they had experienced harassment in the year prior to interview the vast majority (87%) were insulted, pestered or intimidated 'in person', whilst 16% said this happened 'in writing via text, email, messenger or posts on social media'. This suggests that 'offline' experiences of harassment remain much more common than 'online'. However electronic communication does play a role in a sizeable proportion of such cases. Further details on the insight the 2018/19 SCJS is able to shed on the relationship between the internet and crime are outlined in the 'Cyber crime in Scotland' section.
Most people who had experienced harassment (69%), said it had happened on more than one occasion in the previous year, with 29% reporting only one incident. 14% said they experienced harassing behaviour too many times to remember.
Verbal abuse was the most common type of harassment in 2018/19, experienced by 78% of the victims. Other types of harassment, particularly those involving physical contact, were much less commonly experienced, as shown in Figure 8.9. More in-depth analysis about the extent and nature of violent incidents in 2018/19 is provided in the 'Focus on violent crime' chapter.
Base: All respondents who had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in previous 12 months (150); Variable: QHWHAT2
Most experiences of harassment were not perceived to have any particular motivating factor.
To explore whether incidents may have been related to discrimination, respondents who experienced harassment in the previous 12 months were asked whether they thought any particular - perceived or actual - characteristic they hold may have motivated the offender in any encounters. The proportions citing a range of possible reasons in relation to their most recent (or only) experience are outlined in Figure 8.10 below.
For example, around three-in-five (61%) did not think any of their characteristics were an influencing factor in their most recent (or only) experience of harassment. 14% thought that their gender, gender identity or perception of this was a possible motivating factor, while 12% believed their ethnic origin or race was a possible influence.
Since 2012/13, there has been an increase in the proportion citing their gender, gender identity or perception of this as a possible motivating factor, from 5% in 2012/13 to 14% in 2018/19, while the other possible motivating factors showed no change.
Since the last SCJS in 2017/18, there has been no change across all possible motivating factors.
Base: All respondents who had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in previous 12 months (150). Variable: QHDISCRIM1