Often the word hate in hate crime can be misleading, and when used in hate crime, it does not indicate feelings of anger or rage towards someone. Hate in hate crime indicates a bias against people or groups due to their perceived or actual characteristics. Hence crime is associated with criminal actions such as murder, assault, vandalism, and threats or threats on committing violent crimes on a person (Müller, and Schwarz, 2021 Hate crime has become rampant in our community and often has negative impacts on the physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing of the victim. Although they are constitutional protections against hate crime and violence, some people are still victimized, for no other reason than practicing a particular religion, having a disability, skin color, or sexual orientation. Hate crime affects the individual and sends a message to the group or community members that they are not safe and welcome in the community, evoking feelings of a lack of safety and security.
To be termed a hate crime, the actions must be based on prejudice and bias against a given group and are directed based on the prohibited biases. Hate crimes hence punish the motive. In case of a hate crime, the jury must convince the judge that the victim was targeted due to their race, ethnicity, religion, color, disability, or sexual orientation (Chakraborti, 2018). Hate crimes are considered message crimes as they send messages of fear or terror based on unreasonable beliefs and perceptions of an individual .perpetrators of a hate crime may be motivated by multiple types and basis of prejudice and hatred. At times hate crime is based on our social environments, and the perpetrators may be motivated by different factors such as defense, mission, or retaliators. A crime that is not motivated by prejudice and bias against a given group or individual, their sexual orientation, race, color, religion, ethnicity, and nationality hence does not indicate hate crime.
Social media is a collection of websites and applications which form a platform for communication, community input, interaction, information exchange, and coordination. Social media platforms play an essential role in communication, advocacy, creating awareness, and education. Despite its benefits, social media has fueled hate crime over the years in our community .Hate crime on social media is often driven by hate speech (Müller and Schwarz, 2021). This comprises social media postings that are targeted against a given group. It also includes videos, comments, substantial claims, violent rhetoric, fake news, lies, and messages that incite violence towards a group or individual. In our community, social media has become a significant source of information. The information is shared across different platforms hence is likely to reach a more substantial number of people than before.
In contrast to traditional information sources, social media allows individuals to select specific topics and cliché opinions. This may limit the variety of information available to users, resulting in online groups with a predisposed stance on a particular group. Social media propagates hate crimes when posts against a given group, such as religion, are posted on social media platforms. Social media users may select the viewpoint that resonated with their presumption and hence may fuel hate crime. Hate speech on social media is also another way that hate crime is propagated. Hate speech entails hatred incited towards a group due to their factual and perceived characteristics. It involves the use of words and behaviors that are threatening, abusive, or insulting and that are intended to incite and stir up hatred towards members of a given religion, race, nationality, and sexual orientation (Pezzella, Fetzer, and Keller, 2019). For instance, exposure to sentiments on black people may cause and incite actions towards black people. Suppose the ideas are prolonged over a long period across different social media platforms. In that case, they are likely to evoke and incite hate crimes, including assault, abuse, and real-life actions such as vandalism and murder. Social media propagates ideas of hatred and fuels real-life actions towards the people of a given group.
In order to reduce hate crime in the community, it is essential to ensure cultural awareness. When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime. Hence the first strategy is to educate the community on diversity, inclusion, and the importance of being culturally aware of other groups of people (Chakraborti, 2018). The community needs to be educated on different and informed that being different should not be a crime or make you a victim to hate crime. Information can be integrated and posted on the community’s websites, which will ensure that a larger group of people have access to the correct information. Education on cultural diversity can be included in the school curriculums; hence as children learn, they can have knowledge and information on a wide range of people.
Another strategy of creating awareness is through campaigns. Before conducting a campaign, a survey on the community’s cultural understanding of hate crime will be done. After the responses, campaigns against hate crime will help create awareness throughout the community. The campaign will entail informing the community on the impacts of hate crime, both on the individual and the community member of the group. It will include posters, social media, radio, television, and newsletter to create awareness throughout the community. This way, a large number of people can have access to information hence effectively creating community awareness.
Chakraborti, N. (2018). Responding to hate crime: Escalating problems, continued failings. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 18(4), 387-404.
Müller, K., & Schwarz, C. (2021). Fanning the flames of hate: Social media and hate crime. Journal of the European Economic Association, 19(4), 2131-2167.
Pezzella, F. S., Fetzer, M. D., & Keller, T. (2019). The dark figure of hate crime underreporting. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764218823844.