February 21, 2014

More hate crimes motivated by victims’ ethnicity


In about half of the cases of reported hate crimes, victims believed their ethnic background motivated the offender.

Motivations behind hate crimes have shifted significantly in recent years, with the biggest jump in hate crimes that, according to the victims, were based on ethnicity bias. Ethnicity, defined as a victim’s “ancestral, cultural, social or national affiliation,” was cited as a reason in 51% of cases reported in 2012, up from 30% in 2011 and 22% in 2004, according to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

HateCrimes_motivesIn addition to the big jump in ethnicity as a motivation, the percentage of hate crimes where the perceived cause was religious bias nearly tripled — from 10% in 2004 to 28% in 2012. Over the same period, the percentage of hate crimes rooted in gender bias more than doubled, from 12% to 26%. There were a total of 293,790 reported hate crimes in 2012, up from 218,010 in 2011 and 281,670 in 2004.

Changes were much less dramatic for other hate-crime motives tracked by the government. Hate crimes in which race and sexual orientation were cited showed a decline between 2004 and 2012, from 58% to 46%, while hate crimes motivated by a person’s disability remained about the same (11%). The BJS noted that in many cases, victims reported more than one bias motivation for the same crime.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Criminal Justice, Discrimination and Prejudice

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.

1 Comment

  1. MJL2 years ago

    I am careful when evaluating these kinds of “trends.” Without some way to understand why each victim reached their conclusion it is possible that what is being measured is based on something other than fact. For example if the media is continually harping on a theme, that theme can greatly influence how people perceive their world and interpret their experiences. It is so inviting to have a “scientific” excuse for one’s assertion.

    Remember when “recovered memory” was all the rage? People wrote books on the subject, were interviewed on TV and radio, and “experts” made lots of money. Ultimately, “recovered memory” was proved to be pseudo-science at best and a sham probably. But for a few short years, people in general believed in it and even re-interpreted their world using it. It probably affected Pew Research surveys.

    Best regards