Hate Crimes in Juveniles


HateCrimes in Juveniles

HateCrimes in Juveniles

Juvenilesare also involved in hate crimes just as they are victims. Based onstatistics from the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, as it will beexplained in the later paragraphs, this paper describes theprevalence of hate crimes involving juveniles (McDevitt, Balboni,JBennett, Weiss, Orchowsky, &amp Walbolt, 2013). Hate crimes areaggressive acts that are motivated with a varied degree of bias bythe perpetrator against the victim. The grounds of bias could berace, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. Of particular concernare hate crimes involving violence such as bullying, vandalism,physical assault, and racial discrimination, and violence targetingolder victims or fellow juveniles with a different sexual orientationfrom the perpetrator. The statistics reflect the prevalence of hatecrimes in juveniles reflect the participation of law enforcementagencies that took part in the Uniform Crime Reporting Hate CrimeStatistics in 2014, which are the latest available statistics. Thefigures represent over 300 million people in the country(Altschiller, 2012). All the states and the District of Columbia arerepresented in the set of statistics. Juvenile hate crimes take timeto reduce to the sensitivity of the biases that motivate theperpetrators notwithstanding the location of the aggression againstthe victim. With the meager data available due to legal restrictionsand low reporting by victims, juveniles are disproportionatelyrepresented in hate crime offenses both as victims and asperpetrators.

Generalstatistics (source: UniformCrime Reporting Hate Crime Statistics)

Juvenileshave been both victims and offenders of physical assaults targetedbased on different bias motivations (p.20). In general, 64% ofjuvenile hate crime offenders are actually juveniles (p.21).Surprisingly, 59% of juveniles who commit hate crimes against theirpeers are known to the victim (p. 21). Only 39% of the cases reportedinvolved a hate crime against or by an adult. Thus, the statisticsfor offenders only bear a slight difference with victims (p.21). 9%of physical assaults reported to have been perpetrated by juvenilestargeted members of a different racial group (p.22).7% involvedtargeting a member of a different religion, 12% against a member of adifferent ethnic group, 8% to people with different sexualorientation, and 9% against persons with disability. As victims ofphysical assault, juveniles had 1638 reported cases as follows: 116cases involved religion as a bias motivation, 270 cases of ethnicitybias, 1124 cases based on racial bias, 114 cases with sexualorientation as bias motivator, and 11 cases targeted juveniles withdisability (p.22). Although the number is quite low compared to adulthate crimes, the statistics indicate a considerable prevalence ofhate assault against or by juveniles.

Statisticsalso indicate that juveniles are more vulnerable to hate crimes thanany other age group. 23% of hate crime victims were juveniles. Otherage groups constituted 11% of all the cases reported to the policecountrywide. Hate crime victims on physical or verbal assault,destruction of property, racial discrimination are mostly male teens.69% percent juvenile hate crime victims recorded were male teens.This is a higher number compared to the general percentage of 53% asjuvenile male and female victims.

Hatecrimes are unique. Juvenile victims of hate crimes are targetedbecause of a core characteristic of their identity. These attributescannot be changed. Victims often feel degraded, frightened,traumatized, vulnerable, and suspicious. Community members who sharethe identity characteristics of the victim may also feel suspicious,vulnerable, helpless, and powerless. In this kind of emotionalatmosphere law enforcement officers and investigators must attendcarefully to the ways they interact and communicate with the victims,their families, and members of the community being targeted. Avictim’s perception is an important factor that law enforcersshould consider while recognizing the fact that they may notrecognize the crime as motivated by bias. Thus, it would beinappropriate to ask victims directly if they believe they were avictim of a hate crime. However, it is appropriate to ask if theyhave any idea why they might have been victimized. Victims andoffenders may appear to be in the same race, ethnic group,nationality, religion and any other group, but it is theperpetrator’s perception of indifference that motivates theircriminal behavior.

Possiblereasons why the Statistics are Scanty

Asindicated in the thesis statement, hate crimes among juveniles aredisproportionately represented compared to any other crime. There areseveral reasons that possibly cause the reluctance of victims toreport or take part in the investigation process of a hate crime.They include (Harlow, 2011):

  • Fear of re-victimization or retaliation because the victims are mostly known to the perpetrator.

  • The fear that their privacy would be compromised

  • Fear of law enforcement and uncertainty about the response of the justice system

  • Absence of support structures

Inconclusion, the statistics on hate crimes involving juveniles asvictims or offenders could possibly be scanty. Sources of statisticalinformation such as The Uniform Crime Reporting Hate Crime Statisticsonly rely on official records of reported cases from law enforcementat state and federal level. Although the statistics mentioned abovecould serve as an indicator of prevalence of juvenile hate crime,more effort should focus on identifying unreported cases as well.


Altschiller,D. (2012). Hatecrimes: A reference handbook.Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

Harlow,C. W. (2011). Hatecrime reported by victims and police.US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau ofJustice Statistics.

McDevitt,J., Balboni, J. M., Bennett, S., Weiss, J. C., Orchowsky, S., &ampWalbolt, L. (2013). Improving the quality and accuracy of bias crimestatistics nationally. Hateand bias crime: A reader,77.