More than half of hate crimes in the United States over a 12-year period were not reported to police, according to a new federal report released Thursday.
From the years 2004-2015, 54 percent of the 250,000 hate crimes that took place went unreported to law enforcement, according to the report on hate crimes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The Hate Crime Statistics Acts defines hate crimes as those “that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.”
The Bureau of Justice Statistic’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) includes hate crimes both reported and unreported to police.
Hate crimes went unreported to police for a variety of reasons, the report stated. The majority of hate crimes (41 percent) were “handled another way.” This includes through private means or through non-enforcement officials. Some victims also did not come forward because they did not feel it was important or that police would help.
The report showed that almost all hate crime victimizations (99 percent) during 2011-15 used hate language as evidence that the crime was motivated by hate. Other evidence included police investigators and situations where the offender left hate symbols at the scene.
The new survey shows the limits of hate crime reporting, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University, according to Associated Press.
“Many victims don’t report hate crimes because of personal and institutional reasons,” Levin said. For example, some Latino immigrants may be hesitant to call police after a hate crime due to fear of deportation, he said.
Additionally, Levin noted that some LGBTQ+ victims may also be reluctant to report hate crimes committed against them for fear of losing a job or being outed to their community or family.
The report also showed that Hispanics experienced a higher rate (1.3 per 1,000 per persons age 12 or older) of violent hate victimizations than non-Hispanic whites (0.7 per 1,000), followed by blacks. In addition, persons in households in the lowest income bracket ($24,999 or less) had the highest rate of victimization when compared to all other income categories.
Officials have struggled to create a comprehensive understanding of the number of hate crimes that occur in the United States. However, Levin said that the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting hate crimes, despite critics blaming the Trump administration tough rhetoric and politics for a spike in such offenses, says Associated Press.
Without victims’ confidence in the justice system and police force to protect them, the Justice Department will continue to have difficulties in recording accurate hate crime numbers. In order to fix the problem, you must first understand the problem.