The term "hate crime" is defined by various federal and state laws. In its broadest sense, the term refers to an attack on an individual or his or her property (e.g., vandalism, arson, assault, murder) in which the victim is intentionally selected because of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
Every year, thousands of Americans are victims of such hate crimes. Each one of these crimes has a ripple effect in our communities. The pain and injustice of such crimes tear at the fabric of our democratic society, creating fear and tensions that ultimately affect us all.
Schools are not immune from such intolerance and violence. Teenagers and young adults account for a significant proportion of the country?s hate crimes both as perpetrators and as victims. Hate-motivated behavior, whether in the form of ethnic conflict, harassment, intimidation, or graffiti, is often apparent on school grounds. Hate violence is also perpetrated by hate groups, which actively work to recruit young people to their ranks.
The good news is that children are not born with such attitudes; they are learned. It is possible for schools, families, law enforcement, and communities to work together to prevent the development of the prejudiced attitudes and violent behavior that lead to hate crimes. Prejudice and the resulting violence can be reduced or even eliminated by instilling in children an appreciation and respect for each other?s differences, and by helping them to develop empathy, conflict resolution, and critical thinking skills. By teaching children that even subtle forms of hate are inher-ently wrong, we can hope to prevent more extreme acts of hate in the future.
Educators have a tremendous opportunity to reduce or eliminate hate-motivated crime and violence. A number of school districts and individual schools have already taken action to create comprehensive anti-hate policies and pro-grams that involve every facet of the school community students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators. These schools have worked to create a school climate where hateful acts are not tolerated, and to provide an equitable, supportive, and safe environment for all students.
Preventing Youth Hate Crime: A Manual for Schools and Communities is intended to assist more schools and communities to confront and eliminate harassing, intimidating, violent, and other hate-motivated behavior among young people. It is intended to promote discussion, planning, immediate action, and long-term responses to hate crime. By understanding what hate-motivated behavior is and how best to respond to it, schools can become a powerful force in bringing such incidents to an end.
How big a problem is hate crime?
The FBI reports that approximately 10,700 hate crimes were reported in the United States in 1996 approximately 29 such incidents per day. (Since many hate crimes are never reported to police, it is likely that the actual number of hate crimes significantly exceeds this number.) About 70 percent of all reported hate crimes were crimes against a person; about 30 percent were property crimes. Research indicates that a substantial number of these crimes were committed by males under age 20.
America?s students are
School enrollment in 1997 has risen to a record 52.2 million students. Over the course of the next ten years, public high school enrollment is expected to increase by 13 percent. Many of these students will be enrolled in schools with increasing numbers of students from different races, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures. By the year 2007, Hispanic students will outnumber African American students by 2.5 percent. The numbers of Asian and Native American students are also expected to increase dramatically. The percentage of Caucasian students is expected to decline from 66 percent in 1997 to 61 percent in 2007. Within 25 years, 50 percent of all students will belong to a minority group.
Elements of Effective
A comprehensive hate prevention program will involve all school personnel in creating a school climate in which prejudice and hate-motivated behavior are not acceptable, but which also permits the expression of diverse viewpoints. Hate prevention, as used in this manual, means prevention of hate-motivated behavior and crimes.
Provide hate prevention training to all staff, including teachers, administrators, school security personnel, and support staff. All school employees, including teachers, administrators, support staff, bus drivers, and security staff, should be aware of the various manifestations of hate and be competent to address hate incidents. Training should include anti-bias and conflict resolution methods; procedures for identifying and reporting incidents of racial, religious, and sexual harassment, discrimination, and hate crime; strategies for preventing such incidents from occurring; and resources available to assist in dealing with these incidents.
Ensure that all students receive hate prevention training through age-appropriate classroom activities, assemblies, and other school-related activities. Prejudice and discrimination are learned attitudes and behaviors. Neither is uncontrollable or inevitable. Teaching children that even subtle forms of hate such as ethnic slurs or epithets, negative or offensive name-calling, stereotyping, and exclusion are hurtful and inherently wrong can help to prevent more extreme, violent manifestations of hate. Through structured classroom activities and programs, children can begin to develop empathy, while practicing the critical thinking and conflict resolution skills needed to recognize and respond to various manifestations of hate behavior.
Develop partnerships with families, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies. Hate crime prevention cannot be accomplished by schools alone. School districts are encouraged to develop partnerships with parent groups, youth serving organizations, criminal justice agencies, victim assistance organizations, businesses, advocacy groups, and religious organizations. These partnerships can help identify resources available to school personnel to address hate incidents, raise community awareness of the issue,
ensure appropriate responses to hate incidents, and ensure that youth receive a consistent message that hate-motivated behavior will not be tolerated.
Develop a hate prevention policy to distribute to every student, every student?s family, and every employee of the school district.An effective hate prevention policy will promote a school climate in which racial, religious, ethnic, gender and other differences, as well as freedom of thought and expression, are respected and appreciated. The policy should be developed with the input of parents, students, teachers, community members, and school administrators. It should include a description of the types of behavior prohibited under the policy; the roles and responsibilities of students and staff in preventing and reporting hate incidents or crimes; the range of possible consequences for engaging in this type of behavior; and locations of resources in the school and community where students can go for help. It should respect diverse viewpoints, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression. Every student should be informed of the contents of the school district?s policy on hate crime on an annual basis. School districts are advised to consult with an attorney in the course of developing such a policy.
Develop a range of corrective actions for those who violate school hate-prevention policies. School districts are encouraged to take a firm position against all injurious manifestations of hate, from ethnic slurs, racial epithets, and taunts, to graffiti, vandalism, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and violence. School districts can develop a wide range of nondisciplinary corrective actions to respond to incidents, including counseling, parent conferences, community service, awareness training, or completion of a research paper on an issue related to hate, as well as disciplinary actions such as in-school suspension or expulsion. School officials should be prepared to contact local, state or federal civil rights officials to respond to more serious incidents and, in cases involving criminal activity or threat of criminal activity, should call the police.
Collect and use data to focus district-wide hate prevention efforts. Collection of data on the occurrence of school-based hate incidents or crimes will assist administrators and teachers to identify patterns and to more effectively implement hate prevention policies and programs. To obtain such data, school districts may include questions regarding hate crime on surveys
they conduct related to school crime and discipline, as well as collect and analyze incident-based data on specific hate incidents and crimes. In the latter case, school districts are encouraged to work closely with local law enforcement personnel to collect uniform and consistent data on hate crime.
Provide structured opportunities for integration. Young people can begin to interact across racial and ethnic lines through school-supported organizations and activities. Multi-ethnic teams of students can work together on community service projects, to organize extracurricular events, or to complete class projects. High school students can participate in service-learning projects in which they tutor, coach, or otherwise assist younger students from diverse backgrounds.
Which hate crime and
civil rights laws apply?
A number of federal and state laws prohibit acts or threats of violence, as well as harassment and discrimination, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender and/or disability. It is important to check with an attorney to ascertain the extent to which federal and state hate crime and civil rights laws may also apply in the school context. The applicable federal laws include the following:
18 U.S.C. Section 245. Section 245, the principal federal hate crime statute, prohibits intentional use of force or threat of force against a person because of his or her race, color, religion, or national origin, and because he or she was engaged in a federally protected activity, such as enrolling in or attending any public school or college. Legislation has been introduced which would amend Section 245 to include crimes committed because of the victim?s sexual orientation, gender or dis-ability, and to eliminate the federally protect-ed activity requirement.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI and regulations promulgated under Title VI prohibit discrimination by institutions that
receive federal funding, including harassment, on the basis of race, color, and national origin.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX and regulations promulgated under Title IX prohibit discrimination by institutions that receive federal funding, including harassment, based on sex.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 and regulations promulgated under Section 504 prohibit discrimination by institutions that receive federal funding, including harassment, based on disability.
Examples of Hate Prevention
The following hate prevention programs are examples of the measures that educators can take to address hate-motivated behavior in their schools and communities. These examples are not exhaustive, but are intended to assist educators in determining which programs might work best in their own schools and communities. For additional information, please contact the individuals listed.
The programs, activities, organizations, curricula, books, web sites, videos and other resources listed in this Manual are not exhaustive, nor is their inclusion intended as an endorsement by the Department of Justice or the Department of Education. Rather, these listings are intended to assist educators in determining which programs, activities, organizations, or instructional materials might be most suitable for their own classrooms, schools, and communities.
New Jersey Department of Education:
In 1995, 885 bias incidents against African Americans, Hispanics, and Jews were reported in New Jersey. In response, the State Department of Education?s (NJDOE) Office of Bilingual and Equity Issues, in conjunction with the Holocaust Education Commission, the NAACP, the National Conference, the Anti-Defamation League, and county Human Relations Commissions, developed Project PRIDE (Peace, Respect, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity).
PRIDE?s goal is to eliminate bias incidents from public schools. PRIDE trains parents, students, and teachers to understand the dynamics of institutional racism, discrimination, bias crime, and hate-motivated conflict. Key aspects of the Project include conflict resolution training for teachers and other school staff; anti-bias and conflict resolution training for students; and school-wide support for principles of non-violence.
PRIDE is currently being used in 122 New Jersey school districts. NJDOE hopes to implement PRIDE statewide in coming years.
Iliana Okum, Project Director. 609/292-8777.
Los Angeles, California:
Educating for Diversity
In 1992, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) approved a plan to address diversity and cultural issues in its schools. The Board of Education?s action plan, Educating for Diversity: A Framework for Multicultural and Human Relations Education, was implemented in 1994 and includes guidelines, strategies, and resources for addressing these issues in the district?s instructional program.
The LAUSD plan consists of a multi-prong approach that addresses the needs of teachers, administrators, students, and the community. Teams of teachers from each school site receive training on district data collection procedures. School counselors receive additional training on working with victims of hate crimes, and parents are offered a one-day orientation on family and human relations issues.
Two classroom curricula have been implemented to improve students? understanding of and respect for diversity. Sixth and ninth graders receive a 10-20 week curriculum entitled Healthy Relations, which emphasizes multicultural and human relations sensitivity, gender relations, conflict resolution, peer mediation, and media literacy. Different and the Same, a video series on diversity and inclusion, has been provided as a teaching tool in the elementary school grades.
Evangelina Stockwell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Intergroup Relations. 213/625-6579.
Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley, California: Youth Together Project
The Youth Together Project was developed by a coalition of human rights groups, teachers, school administrators, parents, and students, in response to reports of increasing racial and ethnic tensions among youth in the Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley schools.
The Project aims to foster cross-cultural understanding between different ethnic groups; establish preventive programs designed by and for youth; and influence hate crime policy within participating school districts. Students are grouped into multicultural teams to examine individual stereotypes and prejudices through group discussions and cooperative learning activities. This approach is based upon the theories that the keys to resolving ethnic tensions among students is to understand student perspectives on race, power, and privilege, and to address the institutional roots of racial violence in the schools. Teams work together to implement hate and violence prevention programs, such as a peer education program.
During its first year, the Project recruited and trained 75 students from five high schools (15 students from each school) to serve on the multicultural teams. Over a one-year period, the teams developed, conducted, and analyzed a survey of 2,500 Bay Area students? views on violence and racial tension in their schools. The team members then published educational materials on issues of race, equity, and school violence. These materials are available upon request.
Margaretta Lin, Project Director. 510/834-9455.
Omaha, Staten Island, San Diego, and Los Angeles:
Stop the Hate
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute?s Stop the Hate program, developed by the Anti-Defamation League, is being pilot tested in one high school and several feeder schools in Omaha, Staten Island, San Diego, and