Hate crimes are crimes that occur when a person treats another with bias due to their membership in a social grouping that has its ground on religion, race, sex or sexual orientation, social class, political affiliation, age, nationality or ethnic background, most of which one cannot change. The crimes date back to the periods of the Roman Empire where one can derive an example when the Romans persecuted the Christians; another example is the Nazis oppression to the Jews during the Nazi occupation of Germany. Hate crimes are social ills with no concrete cause and they end up hurting and destroying the lives of many innocent people. People with personal vendettas instigate them and mostly they are for psychological pursuits of power.
Profile of the typical individual who commits hate crimes
The main cause or reason for committing the crime is usually not the only reason for offenders to commit the crime. An example of a profile of a typical hate crime offender is as follows. A hate crime offender who oppresses against people of a different race often has feelings of dispossession and has low self-esteem. They also have anger and resentment, which usually comes from a childhood of being a victim of child abuse or any sort of mistreatment or abusive treatment. Most offenders of this type know their victims quite well. A racially motivated offender does not regard him/herself as a racist and if engaged in a conversation about the evils of racism, one might be met with interest and defiance rather than attitude change. Such offenders have complex emotions and they are easily provoked to violence (Gerstenfeld, 2004).
Targets and/or victims of hate crimes
Hate crime victims are commonly members of minority groups in society. Racial and religious groups are the two groups in which most victims come from. Politically motivated hate crimes are also quite common. Hate crimes’ victims suffer from shock and sometimes disbelief, as they may not believe what happened to them due to the trauma. They also experience deep personal crises and their lives just take a complete turn-around. Due to their fear, they mostly increase their chances and vulnerability to repeat attacks. They feel hopeless and usually have anger towards the offenders and are usually vengeful. They also develop fear of certain groups especially those that the offenders have come from. They also feel ashamed and humiliated and they feel that their immediate community has betrayed them (Jacobs & Potter, 1998).
Causes and effects of hate crimes
The community also has feelings of victimization in a few ways including a sense of group vulnerability. The community around where a hate crime has occurred also has tension and or fear and the possibility of such crimes happening again are high. The community loses trust in law enforcement authorities and may take justice into their own hands. Loss and damage of property also affects the community for instance, where buildings such as temples are destroyed due to religious motivated hate crimes. Hate crimes in general are traumatizing to the victims and are re-assuring to the offender. The offenders end up having a sense of pride and if in a group, they are considered heroes (Herek, et al, 1992).
Actions that can be taken to minimize the occurrence of hate crimes
The community, the people and the government need to work together to curb this social ill. The long-term effects it could have may be quite catastrophic as it could bring wars and conflicts in all parts of the world. Social activities should be encouraged, where communities, races, religions and all social groupings can come together and participate in these events. This shall in turn lead to increased interactions and co-existence among all social groupings. Residence on grounds of social class and groupings should be discouraged since it creates a base for the creation of a social barrier. The way forward and the main way to reduce or completely end hate crimes is to campaign for equality and peace and the perception of people not based on the social grouping that they belong to but as themselves.
Gerstenfeld, P. B. (2004). Hate crimes: causes, controls, and controversies. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.
Herek, G. M., Berrill, K., & Berrill, K. T. (1992). Hate crimes: confronting violence against lesbians and gay men. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.
Jacobs, J. B., & Potter, K. (1998). Hate crimes: criminal law & identity politics. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press.