Most of us have heard of hate crime directed at a person or group of people on the basis of their gender, sexual preference, skin color, country of origin, or religious belief. Although the definition of hate crime varies by country, and sometimes by region within a country, in the United States, disability hate crime is generally considered to be crime committed by a perpetrator towards the disability, or perceived disability, of the victim, or the victim’s actual or perceived connection to disability.
Incidents of disability hate may include intimidation, bullying or violence, but less violent offenses such as the following activities are also instances of hate crime against people with disabilities:
- Damaging property
- Writing threatening letters or email
- Posting hateful messages online
Some agencies would like us to believe disability hate crime is decreasing, but the data does not support the belief. As with any statistic, it is possible to present data in a way that supports any belief. For example, it may be true that on the fourth Thursday in April of 2015, data proves disability hate crime was lower in the zip code 84007 than it was on the same date in 2014, but that does not reflect the reality across the United States or the world.
A quick look at the reported data reveals interesting results. According to the Guardian, “The number of recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales rose in 2011 to almost 1,800, its highest total since records began. In the same year there were 523 convictions for the offence.” Two years later, the FBI claims the number of reported cases of disability hate crime decreased in the United States to only 95.
Hate crimes tend to leave a lasting impression on the victim, the targeted group, other vulnerable groups, and the community. According to Wikipedia and many other sources, “Hate crimes can have significant and wide-ranging psychological consequences, not only upon the direct victim but on others as well.”
Thanks to Wikipedia for helping define the term “disability hate crime;” the Federal Bureau of Investigation for providing background information on hate crime; Bureau of Justice for defining hate crime; National Crime Victimization Survey for tracking victimization data; Google for helping me find the information for this post; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to use the picture, text, and links in this post.