Less than half of hate crimes are reported

In 2015, the rate of violent hate crime victimization was 0.7 hate crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older (figure 1). This rate was not significantly different from the rate in 2004 (0.9 per 1,000).1 The absence of statistically significant change in rates from 2004 to 2015 generally held true for violent hate crimes both reported and unreported to police. However, between 2012 and 2015, the rate of unreported violent hate crime declined slightly, from 0.6 to 0.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons 12 or older (90% confidence level).

Findings are primarily from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which has collected data on crimes motivated by hate since 2003. The NCVS and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Hate Crime Statistics Program are the principal sources of annual information on hate crime in the United States. BJS and the FBI use the hate crime definition established by the Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534): “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” The NCVS measures crimes perceived by victims to be motivated by an offender’s bias against them for belonging to or being associated with a group largely identified by these characteristics.

Racial bias was the most common motivation for hate crime during 2011–15

The NCVS asked hate crime victims about the types of bias they suspected motivated the crime. During the aggregated 5-year period from 2011 to 2015, victims suspected that nearly half (48%) of hate crime victimizations were motivated by racial bias (figure 2). About a third of victims believed they were targeted because of their ethnicity (35%) or their gender (29%). About 1 in 5 believed the hate crime was motivated by bias against persons or groups with which they were associated (23%) or by sexual orientation (22%). About 1 in 6 hate crime victimizations were thought to be motivated by bias against the victim’s religion (17%) or disability (16%).


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