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Online date ends in sexual assault

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 15:02

CHERIE LEJEUNE/Design Chief

CHERIE LEJEUNE/Design Chief

After a date made online ended in an aggravated rape in Audubon Park, questions are being raised regarding the safety of dating websites and mobile apps.

According to the police report, on Jan. 9, the victim met her offender online and agreed to meet him in Audubon Park at 7 p.m. that night. The victim was then raped.

In the age of technology, online dating and mobile dating have become commonplace, Brad Petitfils, the director of campus planning and assessment and an expert in youth culture, said.

“According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, in 2005, 44 percent of people surveyed said that online dating is a good way to meet people; that number increased to 59 percent in 2013,” Petitfils said.

Tinder, an app that claims to be “like real life but better” is one of the most popular dating apps on Loyola’s campus, Loyola junior and music industry major Jessica Zajkowski said.

“I’ve known friends who use it dangerously. I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it used to promote scary behavior,” Zajkowski said.

If online dating is problematic, it is so on two fronts, Petitfils said.

“First, you create an image of yourself that is, perhaps, too perfect. You have absolute control over what people see, hear, and think of you,” Petitfils said. “Second, because of this digital fine-tuning, if you go on a date with someone you have met online, you never really know the person that you are going to meet.”

Zajkowski believes that dating, in itself, can be a risky situation in any way it is approached.

“Tinder has a bad reputation, but you can control where you are and who you talk to with Tinder,” Zajkowski said. “It’s just as stupid, or even more so, to go home with a stranger.”

Daniela Chavez, a mass communication sophomore, credits the popularity of online dating websites and mobile apps to laziness.

“Technology is taking over, and people aren’t as open as they used to be,” Chavez said. “People don’t want to make an effort to actually put themselves out there in the real world to meet others.”

Although she believes dating websites and mobile apps can be problematic, Zajkowski believes they can be beneficial if used wisely.

“If you use your head, and understand what you’re doing, it can be safe,” Zajkowski said.

Asia Alvarado can be reached at ajalvara@loyno.edu 

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