What is a Hate Crime?

hate crimes

The data on hate crimes paints a disturbing picture. 

According to hate crime data from the F.B.I., there were 7,175 reported hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,100 the previous year. Antisemitism led the spike in hate crime numbers reported by local authorities.

The 17 percent increase in bias-motivated crime is alarming. 2017 marks the third consecutive year that crimes fueled by hatred have significantly increased. Based on the annual report, almost three out of five hate crimes are due to ethnicity bias and racism. Sexual orientation and religion are other primary motivators that drive people to commit these crimes.

In this article, we will explore what hate crime is and how to put a stop to this despicable act. 

What are Hate Crimes?

A "hate crime" is a "targeted" criminal activity, motivated by extreme prejudice on specific communities. Perpetrators commit hate crimes based on a victim's perceived personal characteristics.

These motivations may include:

  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability

LGBT bullying is a hate crime, as well as bullying people with disabilities or making fun of a person's religious beliefs.

Hate Crimes at a Glance

Here are a few startling statistics on hate crimes in the U.S.A.

  • 47% of all reported hate crimes are racially motivated
  • 21% are sexual-orientation bias
  • 20% of bias-motivated crime was because of religion
  • 12% of all hate crimes stemmed from ethnicity and national origin prejudice
  • 1% is due to disability bias

Every day in the United States:

  • Eight African-Americans will become a victim of a hate crime.
  • Three people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community will be victims of sexual-oriented bias.
  • Three Jewish people, one Muslim, and a Latino person will become victims of prejudice crimes.

Local Law Enforcement and Hate Crimes

hate crimes

The low hate crime numbers of years past may be because not all local law enforcement agencies reported it. One of the main reasons could be that reporting hate crimes to the F.B.I. is only voluntary, not mandatory.

Now, there is an increasing number of agencies becoming aware that it is important to report hate crimes to the bureau. In 2017 alone, almost a thousand more agencies supplied data to the F.B.I., compared to the previous year. 

Unfortunately, many local law enforcement agencies still do not send hate crime data. On the F.B.I.'s report in 2017, a measly 12.6 percent of the agencies indicated that hate crimes happened in their jurisdiction.

Large agencies such as Miami reported zero incidents of hate crimes. The data also shows that hate crime victims do not trust that reporting an event will help them.

Identifying and Reporting an Incident

Some departments lack the proper training for adequately identifying a hate crime and reporting it. This information is according to Arlington, Texas chief of police Will Johnson. Chief Johnson is also the vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

The IACP passed a resolution imploring all law enforcement agencies to "collect, analyze and report on hate crimes." The Justice Department recently launched a new website on hate crimes. The F.B.I. also said it was planning to train local law enforcement officers on how to better identify bias-motivated attacks.

How to Stop Hate Crimes?

Hate crimes are learned behavior. People are not born with inherent hate for a particular segment of society for no other reason than personal bias. Hatred is the root cause for all the violence, pain and suffering plenty of marginalized communities endure. 

According to the New York State Police:

“Discriminating against someone because of his or her race, religious background, or other qualities is wrong. You can do something to stop violence and prejudice. You can work to change attitudes.”

Adults Can Put a Stop to Hate Crimes by: (credit: New York State Police) 

  • Setting a good example by showing respect for others through actions, attitude, and words.
  • Rallying the community to a forum that examines where all the hate and bigotry comes from and talk about solutions.
  • Encourage local law enforcement agencies to collect hate crime data and release the figures to the public.
  • Launch a public awareness campaign to inform people that bias-motivated incidents are crimes that should be reported.
  • Support training for local law enforcement agencies so they can correctly identify and respond to hate crimes.
  • Offer to clean up any bias-motivated graffiti in your community. Paint a mural that celebrates peace, unity, and diversity in its place if possible.
  • Volunteer in schools and talk to students about hate crimes and why it is wrong.
  • Work with schools, community awareness groups, and local businesses to sponsor poster or essay contests. The topic should be about how bias-motivated crimes are hurting the community.
  • Offer support to anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime, whether it is a neighbor or co-worker.

Young People Can Also Help by:

  • Working with schools, community awareness groups, and local businesses to sponsor poster or essay contests. The topic should be about how bias-motivated crimes are hurting the community and the content can be presented visually such as in poster templates.
  • Spearheading a conflict resolution program in school.
  • Greeting and having a conversation with someone who may look different than everyone else.
  • Saying NO to stereotyping.
  • Report bullying and incidents of discrimination to parents and teachers.
  • Start a peer or mentoring program for younger children that teaches bias awareness.
  • Start a school crime watch program.
  • Offer to help a classmate who has been a victim of a hate crime.
  • Writing to the local government representative and sharing ideas on prevention.
  • Organize a community-wide campaign so that all members of the community may participate.
  • Share strategies on how to prevent hate crimes.

If you are a victim or a witness to hate crime, please do not hesitate to report any incidents to the local authorities immediately.