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Chapter 22 Special Topics (Section 1 Supplement)

Hate and Bias Crime

Statistical Overview

  • According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), 8,063 bias-motivated crimes were reported to the police in 2000, involving 9,430 offenses, 9,924 victims, and 7,530 known offenders (FBI 2001).

  • According to the UCR data collected, 53.8% of the hate crimes were motivated by racial bias; 18.3% by religious bias; 16.2% by sexual orientation bias; 11.3% by ethnicity/national origin bias; and 0.5% by disability or multiple biases (Ibid.).

  • UCR found that anti-black bias accounted for 65.5% of the victims of racial bias; anti-Jewish bias represented 74.7% of victims of religious bias; anti-male homosexual bias composed 68.0% of victims of sexual-orientation bias; anti-Hispanic bias made up 62.7% of the victims of ethnicity/national origin bias; and anti-physical disability bias accounted for 55.6% of disability biases (Ibid.).

  • A breakdown of the 2000 UCR report of hate and bias crimes by victim type showed that 79.4% of the victims were persons; 3.7% were society/public; 3.4% were religious organizations; 3.3% were business/financial institutions; and 2.7% were government. The remaining 7.5% were other or unknown (Ibid.).

  • The National Center for Victims of Crime reported that there were 602 active hate groups and 194 active "Patriot" groups in 2000. Activities included marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting, and criminal acts (NCVC 2002).

  • There were 2,151 incidents against 2,475 gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals in 2000, committed by 3,344 offenders (Ibid.).

  • While the number of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence incidents reported to the police in 2000 declined slightly from 1999 levels (less than 1%), police refused complaints 49% more often in 2000 (Ibid.).

  • According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) analysis of UCR data on hate and bias crimes perpetrated between 1997 and 1999, an arrest was made in about 20% of all hate crime incidents (BJS 2001).

  • College campuses experienced a 15% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2000 (NCVC 2002).


(Portions of the following section summarize research reported in Hate Crimes on Campus: The Problem and Efforts to Confront It by Steven Wessler and Margaret Moss, a monograph published in October 2001 with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.)

A U.S. Department of Justice-funded study has examined the prevalence, impact, and response to bias-motivated violence and threats targeting students, staff, and faculty at colleges and universities in the United States. In Hate Crimes on Campus: The Problem and Efforts to Confront It, Wessler and Moss (2001) assert that the available data in hate crimes is not comprehensive because of low rates of reporting. Hate crimes "occur at virtually every type of college and university . . . and are a significant problem."

Current data available on hate and bias crimes are based on the FBI'S Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), The International Association of College Law Enforcement Administrators' (IACLEA) annual survey, and the U.S. Department of Education's Campus Security Statistics (data collected pursuant to the Clery Act.)

  • An analysis of the UCR data indicates that 12 percent of all hate and bias crimes reported between 1997 and 1999 occurred on campuses: 57 percent of hate crimes were motivated by race; 18 percent by anti-Semitism; and 16 percent by bias based on sexual orientation.

  • The IACLEA study for 1998 surveyed 411 campuses and found that reporting institu0tions experienced an average of 3.8 hate crimes each. More than 80 percent of reported hate crimes in the IACLEA survey were motivated by bias based on race or sexual orientation.

  • The U.S. Department of Education is working with colleges to establish better protocols for reporting. Reliable statistics on hate and bias crimes originating in academic institutions are "elusive." Wessler and Moss (2001) found that many students, faculty, and staff are unsure of what to report, when to report, and to whom they should report. At the same time, victims of hate crimes on campus are reluctant to come forward to report because:

    • Victims feel isolated, fear further isolation, and fear repercussions from the perpetrator.

    • Gay and lesbian students and staff fear future employment discrimination if they reveal their sexual orientation, particularly in states where they are not protected by laws against discrimination.

Wessler and Moss (2001) define bias incidents as bias-motivated abuse and harassment not accompanied by physical violence, threats of physical violence, or property damage. According to Wessler and Moss, bias incidents are far more pervasive on college and university campuses. Based on discussions and workshops with students in academic institutions throughout the country, they determined that there is widespread use of degrading language, graffiti, and slurs directed toward people of color, women, homosexuals, and Jews as well as toward other groups traditionally targeted by hate and bias.

Institutional tolerance of this bias-motivated verbal abuse has consequences:

  • It sends a message that if verbal bias and prejudice are accepted within a campus community, more aggressive conduct may also be acceptable.

  • Students, faculty, and staff who are targets of bias attacks are often afraid or angry. Both responses interfere with their ability to do their work and to have a healthy quality of life on the campus.

  • Bias incidents prompt some victims to fight back, often resulting in a call to police to address physical confrontations between students.

Wessler and Moss found that while campus administrators and campus police response to hate and bias motivated behavior varies greatly, there are obvious problems common to most institutions that compromise the prevention, identification, and investigation of hate and bias incidents and crimes on campus.

  • Campus police lack adequate training to understand the dynamics of hate and bias incidents and crimes.

  • Students, faculty, and staff fail to report hate and bias incidents and crimes to campus police when they occur, inhibiting law enforcement's ability to conduct investigations.

  • Students, faculty, and staff do not report possible hate and bias incidents and crimes to school administrators, depriving the school leadership of an opportunity to support targeted students and to warn harassers that their behavior will not be tolerated.

  • Campus police do not report bias incidents to campus administrators, which also deprives the school of an opportunity to support targeted students and to warn harassers that their behavior will not be tolerated.

  • Most campus administrators have yet to establish zero-tolerance policies for hate and bias motivated behavior. When policies exist, they are often not effectively disseminated to the campus community.


Campus police.

  • Implement a training program for campus police. The National Hate Crime Training Initiative is a suggested curricula developed by the U.S. Department of Justice for training police officers in how to respond to and to investigate hate crimes.

  • Designate a civil rights officer. A designated civil rights officer should be the primary liaison between campus administrators, advocacy groups, students, and staff, and other law enforcement agencies to handle hate and bias incidents and crimes in a consistent manner.

Campus administrators.

  • Develop a brochure on school policy for hate and bias incidents for students, faculty, and staff. The brochure should define what to report, to whom to report, and the procedure for reporting.

  • Provide clear and specific guidelines to campus and municipal police on contact information at the campus when a hate and bias crime occurs. Campus administrators should provide concise reporting guidelines, identifying whom at the school should receive initial reports and whom should receive follow-up information.

  • Work with campus and local police to develop and disseminate clear guidelines for reporting, including:

    • When and under what circumstance students, staff, and faculty should report hate crime and bias incidents to campus and municipal police.

    • When and under what circumstance students, staff, and faculty should report hate crime and bias incidents to college administrators.

    • When campus and municipal police should report hate crime and bias incidents to college administrators.

  • Disseminate information through a campus-wide letter. Campus administrators should provide details on alleged hate crimes and strongly condemn hate and bias-motivated violence, harassment, threats, and property damage. They should follow up this communication with an open meeting to allow for the campus community to discuss their views, all the time maintaining the confidentiality of victims unless they choose to participate.

  • Establish a hate crime response team. A hate crime response team made up of students; faculty; staff; victims and victims advocates; and representatives from the president's office, the dean of students office, the multicultural office, the equal opportunity employer office, the campus police, and the municipal police should be established to recommend how the institution can prevent and can better respond to incidents of hate/bias and crime of hate/bias.

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    Chapter 22 Special Topics June 2002
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