Hate crimes in this country are indeed at an all time high. According to the FBI, "a hate crime is a criminal offense motivated by bias, particularly against a given race, religion, disability, ethnicity, nationality, or sexual orientation" ("Hate Crimes," 2004). The FBI recorded some 9,730 hate crimes in 2001 from approximately 12,000 police agencies around the country. This is almost a 21% jump in reported hate crimes from 2000 ("ADL Calls for Expanded Education & Training to Address Significant Increase in Hate Crimes Reported to FBI," 2002).
The majority of hate crimes committed each year is surprisingly not committed by people involved with hate groups but by individual people. The average person to commit a hate crime is someone who is said to resent a groups growing economic power. These people are said to engage in what is known as scapegoating. Others who commit hate crimes could feel a threat to there homes and/or property. Desegregation of public housing is thought to be a good example of this type of motivation.
Lastly, you have what are referred to as thrill seekers and the mission offenders. Thrill seekers are the type of people randomly target random people of minority group to harass or assault. Mission offenders are the type of people who feel they have to wipe out a group of people because they believe they are evil. However, most offenders are just people that believe in stereotypes and will act spontaneously (Holden, 1999). Hate crimes can be caused by any number of reasons but most tend to be caused by one common factor.
Fear, fear of what we do not know will cause us to do strange things and in this case including committing hate crimes. Fear of what we do not know is often the fault of ignorance. Hate crimes can also be caused by other outside influences such as peers, family, media, and political leaders ("Hate Violence Today," 1992). Most people hold the opinions of their friends in high regards. Most people who have been involved with a hate group are said to have joined only because it was something their friends were doing or because they felt a need to belong to a social group.
Perhaps the lack of an American culture when compared to other countries causes people to join gangs and racist gangs. These types of gangs might not only meet their need to belong but also their need to lash out at someone, anyone. The racist gang focuses this later need towards a certain groups of people that may have a strong since of identity ("Hate Violence Today," 1992). Some people believe that hate is instinctual and yet there are others that believe hate to be a taught emotion.
Family can be the biggest influence on how we perceive others. Many kids that are involved with hate group are involved because their families are ("Hate Violence Today," 1992). Today media has a major influence on what opinions people will form about groups of people through the content or a lack there of that they show in there programs. If the media shows negative portrayals about people then their viewers that are often unsupervised children could form a negative opinion about these people ("Hate Violence Today," 1992).
Our political leaders in an attempt to bolster their careers and interests have from time to time used bigotry as a means to obtain the desired ends. This has been seen more in reticent campaigns that use racist or homophobic implications. People that see these types of ploys could come to the conclusion that because these important people feel this way and have created a following of like thinker that it is okay for them to act and think this way as well ("Hate Violence Today," 1992).
There are many things that I think could be done to minimize the occurrence of hate crimes. Educate the young early that hate is wrong. If we teach our children to be more accepting of people's differences then perhaps we can break this growing trend of hate crimes. In addition, I think the federal law needs to come up with a new definition of when and where hate crimes can occur. Currently hate crimes will only break federal law if the crime is committed on federal property or if the victim is participating in a federally protected activity.
Anti-Defamation League. (2002). ADL Calls for Expanded Education & Training To Address
Significant Increase In Hate Crimes Reported To FBI. Retrieved November 26, 2005,
California Association of Human Relations Organizations. (1992). Hate Violence Today.
Retrieved November 26, 2005, from
Council on Foreign Relations. (2004). Hate Crimes (What is a hate crime). Retrieved November
26, 2005, from http://www.terrorismanswers.org/policy/hatecrimes.html.
Holden, G. a. A. (1999). A Policymaker's Guide to Hate Crimes. (Who Commits Hate Crimes?).
Retrieved November 26, 2005, from http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles1/bja/162304.txt.