Hate Crime

IX. Preventing Hate Crime

While responding to hate crime involves working or dealing with offenders or victims once a crime has happened, preventing hate crime focuses on making appropriate changes in society that would prevent future violence related to hate and bias. Since it is known that individuals are not born with prejudice, bias, or hate—that these things are learned—it becomes obvious that these harmful attitudes and feelings can be prevented. Thus, educating individuals to value and embrace diversity would work to reduce prejudice and bias. Several anti-hate organizations have developed in response to hate crime in order to track these crimes and offer prevention services.

A. Preventing Hate Crime through Education

Education and training of individuals to prevent future hate crime and decrease prejudice may take several forms, including school curriculum change, training for educators, specific classroom/school experiences and programs, and public awareness campaigns. Researchers, educators, and individuals who work with specific anti-hate groups have suggested curricula, programs, and exercises that have either been demonstrated to reduce prejudice or seem promising to do so.

Research indicates that typically a certain type of interaction is needed to change bias—specifically, individuals who are different from one another working together to complete a goal. For example, Jigsaw Classrooms have been developed and utilized that reduce stereotypes. In the Jigsaw Classrooms, children are placed in diverse small groups that require each child to “teach” the other children part of the lesson that they are required to learn. In order for the children to do well, they have to rely on the others in the group—as each student holds a piece of the “puzzle.” Examining the effectiveness of this technique has indicated it serves to help the children’s willingness to work together, increase friendship between diverse students, and increase subordinate group children’s grades.

An increasingly popular way to reduce hate and bias has been through public awareness campaigns. These campaigns may consist of mass media publicity (e.g., MTV playing The Matthew Shepard Story and listing names of hate crime victims as part of an anti-hate campaign) or specific drives by independent organizations, advocacy groups, or government or law enforcement agencies. These campaigns and drives may provide information and awareness through literature, media programming, advertising, and fund-raising. Research has generally indicated positive outcomes from these types of campaigns.

B. Anti-Hate Organizations

As there are several hundred organized hate groups, fortunately there are also numerous organized anti-hate groups. These anti-hate organizations range from local and regional to national and international groups. The largest of them will be discussed briefly.

Partners Against Hate (PAH) is an organization funded by the U.S. government that offers education and tools for young people and professionals who work and interact with youth, parents, law enforcement officials, educators, and community leaders. The Partners Against Hate Web site provides numerous links to educational materials, training programs, and tools for individuals interested in reducing bias and hate.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a Jewish group initially founded in 1913 to reduce Jewish stereotypes and prejudice. During the 1960s, the ADL broadened its scope to include civil rights issues. Today, the ADL is one of the United States’ largest civil rights/human relations agencies that fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. The ADL develops materials, programs, and services through over 30 regional and satellite offices throughout the United States and abroad.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in 1971 as a civil rights organization. The SPLC is headquartered in Alabama and monitors organized hate. As the organization was founded by two civil rights attorneys, the SPLC has provided legal counsel in a number of prominent cases against white supremacists and hate group organizations. Since its development, the organization has also become active in educational efforts through publishing resources for educators, parents, and children. The SPLC publishes a semiannual magazine aimed at teachers called Teaching Tolerance.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) was founded in 1973 to promote the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. This organization tracks antigay and -transgendered violence, advocates for rights, and provides educational activities and information. The NGLTF’s Web site provides information on each state’s legal issues related to the rights of gays and lesbians, information on gay violence and hate crime in general, and links for several informational documents and manuals.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) was founded in 1977 by a rabbi who was a Holocaust survivor and is an international Jewish human rights organization. This anti-hate organization focuses its efforts on education by operating the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. The SWC also offers training to educators and law enforcement officials on diversity and hate crime.

There are several other anti-hate organizations and agencies throughout the United States that focus both generally on combating hate and specifically on particular hate problems. For example, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is committed to empowering Arab Americans, defending the rights of Arab Americans, and advocating a balanced Middle East policy. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) works to foster sound public policies, laws, and programs to safeguard the civil rights of Hispanics/Latinos living in the United States and to empower that community to fully participate in U.S. society. All of these organizations, big and small, work to offer knowledge and aid to diverse groups within the United States and to serve communities by providing resources.

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