A Lasting Impression

2016-0125 Disability Hate Crime
Annual statistics released by the FBI indicate the number of hate crimes related to disability bias declined in 2013. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

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:

  • Teasing
  • Threatening
  • 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.


  1. P.S. Thank you for this post. Safety awareness for the disabled is high on my list. Maybe you can do a topic on that here in your news letter.

    1. Nancy, excellent idea. I already have an idea how to address this topic. I need a few days to research the topic a little more, then I will write an article about safety awareness for people with disabilities. Thank you for the idea. ~ Scott

  2. I attended a blind school when I first started to go blind. One of the seminars was a self defense and awareness class. I was very grateful for it. My hometowns crime rate is on the rise. I am grateful that nothing violent has happened to me. But what I do find a lot of, verbal abuse. “What are you doing out alone?” I’m independent, I do things for myself. “Why are you taking a blind person to the movies? How mean..” It was my idea! How mean to send your blind buddy down the hill on a disk” Again, My Idea…. These are the nice ones. But sighted folks are rude with their comments and hurtful. I try to be polite in my return statement, or ignore all together. How do we learn to deal with this type of rudeness and interference? It’s not a hate crime, but it hurts all the same and I get it regularly in my redneck town.

    1. Nancy, I agree the comments are a sign of ignorance, but are they really hateful? Is it possible the comments were made due to curiosity rather than hate. I am visually impaired, but not blind. I wear an eye patch. I frequently hear comments such as “pirate” mostly from young kids. I don’t think they are being hateful; they simply don’t understand their comment is rude and demeaning. I have a little fun with the comment. I tell them “if I were a pirate, where is my ship?” “Why don’t you have an eye patch? Everybody else has one.” Older people usually don’t comment, but they do stare. I use this as a teachable moment. When somebody stares at me in a grocery store, I casually walk up to them, look in their basket, state “that’s the product that did this to me,” then walk away. If the comments and stare were based on hate, not ignorance, my fun probably would not affect the other people, but it would still make me feel better. A world without hate, ignorance, bigotry, racism, discrimination, and greed sounds ideal, but until we have such a society, I will not let the haters affect me.

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