People normally have norms in the society. Usually, that which is not normal according to societal standards is described as queer. In most cases, this is viewed with a lot of prejudice. It is thus received with a lot of violence, and this is legally referred to as hate crime. Various definitions and descriptions have been used to explain the phrase “hate crime”. Initially, the phrase referred to a violation of criminal nature that is triggered by extreme hate. This definition was developed in order to specify the reason behind the hate.
This essay will adopt the definition by the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey that states “hate crime is a criminal violation motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor” (Harlow 5). In the United States of America, hate crime is recognized as a legal offence in the criminal code. The specific chapters that address this crime are; three hundred and eighteen, and three hundred and nineteen.
Hate crimes have always existed all over the world, especially in regions rich in cultural and social diversity. This has been happening regardless of the fact that the world is becoming globalised, and education has spread almost all over the world. These crimes can be identified by studying the background of the offender (Anderson, Dyson and Brooks 122). Normally, these are recurring offences, and they are easily identifiable through past evidences. There has been a concern in the increase of these heinous acts. Major groups of people affected include; minority communities like the blacks, homosexuals, the physically disabled, mentally disabled and those belonging to certain religions among others. This essay will analyse the extent of hate crime in the society and how to improve this kind of treatment. The essay will strive on developing a new program that is meant to aid how such victims are treated.
Statistics on Hate Crime
There is overwhelming statistics on the spread of hate crime all over the world. A study done by Levin and Jack reveal worrying trends in the crime (Levin and Jack 113). A similar sentiment is echoed by Harlow (8), who also explains that this is becoming an almost normal trend in some communities. Evidence proves that out of all incarcerations, about sixteen percent (16%) are related to hate crime. This was a conclusion made after a worldwide survey. In the United States of America, a large percentage of the perpetrators came from the white community (Levin and Jack 118). Other white dominated countries depicted the same trends. This was especially so when it came to crimes against a person based on colour (Doug, 981).
It is estimated that, in 1996 there were one thousand nine hundred and sixty reported cases of hate crime against homosexuals. Reported cases based on racial bias were at a standing figure of one thousand and ten. By the year 1999, the number of reported hate crime incidents had increased to seven thousand eight hundred and seventy six (Harlow 19). Of these, one thousand and ninety were related to skin colour or rather racial bias.
The most recent data was collected in the year 2009 where hate crimes based on skin colour were quite high in Canada, Europe and the United States of America (James and Kimberly 187). In other countries especially in Africa, the crimes based on sexual orientation were on the increase. This was largely attributed to cultural beliefs (Doug 989). Generally, the increase depicts a trend of not less than five percent (5%) per annum. This increase has been attributed to various factors. Social media has been shown to have the greatest impact. This heinous crime was also common in places that had a larger diversity. For instance; hate crimes based on racial ethnicity was common in the United States of America. On the other hand, victims on hate crimes against sexual orientation were reported mostly from large African cities (Iganski 630). Anti Semitic hate crimes are common in Britain than in any other part of the world. Anti Christian hate crimes occurred in Muslim dominated countries such as the United Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Apart from statistical data, further research has been done to show the extremity of this problem. Some authors insist that the data collected is insufficient because most hate crime cases go unreported (Iganski, 629). Apparently, about thirty four percent of all hate crime cases go unreported (Harlow 12). Various other authors collected data from the ground that paints a similar picture (Doug 980; Lawrence 82). As such, the extent of the problem is a little too extreme than depicted. This is also the reason why it is difficult to mitigate this problem.
Anderson, Dyson and Brooks conducted a research on why cases go unreported. According to their research, most people failed to report these cases because of the previous treatment of such cases by the police (Anderson, Dyson and Brooks 126). The police were accused of taking the cases too lightly and even letting the perpetrator go unpunished. Some victims failed to report because of fear and the fact that the case did not seem significant enough. Moreover, most of the reported cases were those that had happened more than once (Harlow 22).
Further data on the subject reveals that reports on hate crimes vary from one region to another. As such, it is almost difficult to estimate the extent of the problem. It is also impossible to make a holistic conclusion on the extent of hate crimes worldwide. Harlow (12) did a research on the extent of hate crimes in various regions. The data collected revealed that the United States of America has the highest prevalent rates of hate crime. The lowest rates were reported in Africa and Canada. A number of factors were attributed to these discrepancies. First, the extent of hate crime is dependent on culture which inculcates prejudice. Secondly, the community determines the extent of the spread of this form of crime. The kind of punishment offered to the perpetrator also determines this.
Apparently, hate crime impacts all forms of populations. It is dependent on the community and the environment within which one is found. However, specific populations are affected all over the world. Racial discrimination has been one of the main causes of hate crime (McDonald and Hogue 2). The minority groups such as blacks, Hispanics and Asians in white dominated countries are affected in this way. There have also been several reports against the Semites in white dominated country. Skin colour is a determining factor in this case.
Sexual orientation is also a determining factor in this case. The lesbians, bisexuals, homosexuals and gays are affected. Mostly, people oriented sexually in this manner are considered queer (James and Kimberly 140). As such, the society treats them differently. In most cases, there has been extreme violence against such people. The physically and mentally challenged in the society sometimes experience the same issues. In some societies, mentally and physically challenged people are deemed insignificant in society. They are thus treated with a lot of disrespect and sometimes violence (Doug 984).
Hate crime is also reported based on religion bias. The type of religion preferred is dependent on the history and the majority of people found in a certain religion. For instance; reports show that in places like Canada and the United States of America, Muslims are hated by the majority Christians. On the other hand, in Muslim dominated countries, other religions are looked down upon. The hate is too severe that sometimes death is imminent.
In some instances, gender has been used as a basis for hate crime. Women are mostly affected in this case. This is especially so in places where culture plays an essential role in shaping the society (McVeigh, Michael and Thoroddur 844). A typical example in this case is where physical abuse of women is considered normal. People of a certain age are also discriminated against. For instance; senior citizens are not fully accepted in some societies. This is probably why they are taken to nursing homes.
The indirect victims in this case are people affiliated to the victims (McVeigh, Michael and Thoroddur 844). In places where hate crime has permeated the society, it is impossible to live normally. A myriad of literature highlights the effects of any form of stigmatisation to an individual and those around him or her. A society affected by hate crime is unable to function properly.
Costs of Hate Crime to the Society
The society is affected in a variety of ways. First, they serve to isolate groups targeted by perpetrators (James and Kimberly 142). Once this happens, development is hindered. The alienated societies are incapable of developing their lives in a positive manner. Polarization between different groups is also quite common. This fans the flares of hatred between communities. Consequently, a number of conflicts occur due to this. A typical example is the mass murder of Jews that occurred during the Second World War. The extremists also form groups like the Ku Klux Klan which are alienated against a certain group of people.
Violent victimisation also carries the risk of severe psychological distress. Research shows that the psychological impact on some victims is severe than in normal crimes (Doug 194). Post traumatic stress disorders, depression and mental health problems are likely to occur in such victims. As a result, the victim is unable to perform and live normally. Such people are reported to have problems like recurrent nightmares, irritability and general health problems that cause inability to function normally. In such an instance, the society loses the productive nature of such a person. Increased financial undertakings for treating such an individual are also undertaken by the society at large. This is especially so when the individual becomes a danger to self and others.
Threats are used during hate crimes majorly to scare the community with immutable characteristics. A subliminal message is passed to communities with similar characteristics. This reduces the feeling of safety and security in an individual and a community as a whole (Anderson, Dyson and Brooks 139). Fear has been attributed as a major cause on the loss of productivity of an individual. A good example is the inability of openly gay students being unable to walk freely in some schools due to fear. Also, if this occurs at the work place, the relationship between employees is affected making the environment non- conducive for work. Possibility of legal suits is also quite high further increasing financial burdens and misuse of resources.
Iganski (56) states that hate crimes are common during certain times like during economic distress. In this case, the differences within the society are magnified, and this makes it difficult to solve the problem. In some cases, solving such problems may take longer than normal. Generally hate crime is detrimental to development and societal growth.
How victims of these forms of victimization treated in the criminal justice system and society at large
The treatment of victims of hate crime is largely dependent on the society, one is found (Lawrence 45). In some cases, the rate of hate crime is quite high, and the practices associated with such activities are extreme. In this case, the society tends to alienate itself from the victims. This is because people fear being associated with the victims and facing a similar treatment. In places where the hate crime is not extreme, the victims are usually tolerated. Some activist groups form to protect such individuals.
The treatment by the justice system is also dependent on the dominating community. In most cases, the black community has complained of being mistreated by the justice system mainly because it is dominated by the white community. This is quite common in places like the United States of America and Canada. In some cases, the justice system has been biased in sentencing people from certain backgrounds. For example, most of the inmates on death row are from the black communities. It is also easier for people from the Arab community to be incarcerated for terrorism related crimes. This form of treatment has led to lack of trust in this system.
What can be done to improve the treatment of these victims
With the far reaching concern in the increase of hate crimes, various researchers have come up with ways of mitigating these heinous acts. As a way of ensuring that societies shun from such acts, severe punishment has been suggested (James and Kimberly 145). This will pass a strong message to like minded people. Furthermore, the increase in this crime has been attributed to lack of reporting. The society or community should be provided with a specific centre where the crime will be reported. Consequently, perpetrators and like minded people will shun from these activities. This will improve the treatment of the victims by the society at large.
New programs would be beneficial? Develop a Program to Provide Assistance to Those Victims. How can we prevent the particular form of victimization?
As a way of ensuring that this problem is mitigated, expertises in different fields have joined hands to curb this problem. However, the prevalence of the problem is still at an all time high. This implies that the methods employed do not have any effects. Further research into the subject suggests that a combination of methods can be quite effective (Perry 101).
First, it is important to consider the source of the problem (Levin and Jack 174). Educating the community on the importance of diversity can go a long way in ensuring harmonious existence. This should be made a compulsory subject from the lowest level of education. In this way, diversity will be a normal occurrence. Secondly, the communities that are likely to be affected should be identified. Counselling in this case should begin as early as possible. Preparing individuals at an earlier stage will reduce the extent of the trauma (Anderson, Dyson and Brooks 150).
Communities should also be encouraged to engage in intercultural activities. For instance; setting up a specific day where communities can perform activities common in their cultures is an effective way of ensuring this (Perry 127). This can be done through folk dances, intercultural competitions and even extravaganzas. In this way, societies will stop viewing each other as competitors.
The police and the justice system requires reshuffling to enable other communities to participate at similar levels. In some cases, victims have reported lack of action by the police because the police deemed their cases unimportant. This is especially common in hate crime based on racial bias. The justice system is accused of basing judgement using the same bias. The reason given for this is that most of the jurors, legal counsels and even judges are from a particular community (McDonald and Hogue 127). Massive educational campaigns should be conducted to increase cultural awareness.
The program should include a school curriculum where children will be taught on the importance of cultural diversity. There should be festivals and celebrations dedicated on celebrating cultural diversity. Offering early counselling should be part of this program. Also, communities should be allowed to settle anywhere in the country. The correctional system should be strict on how to handle hate crimes. This is a good way of deterring crimes and communicating a message to the rest of the community (James and Kimberly 121).
Preventing hate crime should begin from the identification of the source. First, the offenders should be deprogrammed (McVeigh, Michael and Thoroddur 865). This indoctrination of hate and separatism can be gotten rid of by identifying the source of the hate. The victim should be counselled as a way of deprogramming. In this way, the individual will come to terms with their feelings (Perry 148). Eventually, this form of hate will be exempted by inculcating the fact that every individual is equal regardless of culture, age, gender or even religion.
Hate crime is on the increase regardless of the spread of globalisation. As a result, the problem is becoming an endemic. If it is not dealt with, it is likely that it could lead to problems in society. Therefore, there is a need to correct this problem. To this end, the adoption of some of the suggestions provided above could be used to correct this hatred. Moreover, further research should be done on the subject in order to develop better methods of curbing this crime.
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Doug, Meyer. “Evaluating the Severity of Hate-motivated Violence: Intersectional Differences among LGBT Hate Crime Victims.” Sociology. 44(5): 980-995, 2010, Print.
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James, Jacobs, and Potter Kimberly. Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics. London: Oxford University Press, 2001. http://www.questia.com/library/91850700/hate-crimes-criminal-law-identity- politics
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McDonald, Susan., and Andrea Hogue. An exploration of the needs of victims of hate crimes: A report. Department of Justice of Canada, 2007. http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp- pr/cj-jp/victim/rr07_vic1/rr07_vic1.pdf
McVeigh, Rory, “Welch Michael and Bjarnason Thoroddur. Hate Crime Reporting as a Successful Social Movement Outcome.” American Sociological Association. 68: 843- 867, 2003, Print.
Perry, Barbara. In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crimes. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.