The word victim can be used to refer to a number of people who are affected by negative actions of others which are not related to any personal responsibility of their own. “An examination of U.S. history will reveal that a significant proportion of murders, assaults, and acts of vandalism and desecration were fueled by bigotry” (Karmen, 2013, p. 350). Hate crime victimization is a very prevalent and serious issue that exists amongst our society today that is often used to demonstrate a form of hate towards a particular group of people; primarily minority groups. “Although each state employs a different definition of hate crime, most statutes include groups singled out on the basis of race (such as African Americans or Asian Americans), ethnicity (for example, Latina/Latino), sexual orientation, or disability” (McDevitt & Sgarzi, 2003, p.189). Most hate crimes are demonstrated through acts such as vandalism, assault, or some other form of intimidation by the bias person(s).
Hate crimes have the tendency to pose a more harmful threat to the social aspect of society than non-bias crimes in terms that it aims to generate a form of separation between the various groups and members of society. Mass disturbances such as riots, can be generated throughout communities as a result of these bias acts. As a result, many others are victimized when a hate or bias crime is committed: not just the victim(s) themselves. According to Levin & McDevitt, 2003; “these diverse crimes could polarize communities along racial and ethnic lines and thereby undermine the ongoing American experiment of fostering multicultural tolerance and the celebration of diversity” (Karmen, 2013, p. 40). According to several authors, these impacts can be increased by certain aspects of these bias crimes.
“The study of victimology has expanded in recent years to include those who experience harm firsthand, for examples, victims of domestic violence, hate crime, and police brutality, as well as those who experience secondary victimization, such as the family and friends of the victims” (McDevitt & Sgarzzi, 2003, p. 2). In other words, bias crimes do not only affect the victim, but they also affect the victim’s immediate community as well as their community as a whole.
1. The Dimensions of Hate Crimes
The first characteristic of these crimes that is present in these incidents is known as the victim interchangeability. “Interchangeability means that any individual who possesses, or is perceived to possess, a specific trait that can be selected as a target” (McDevitt & Sgarzi, 2003, p. 190). Hate crime victims are chosen based on an actual or perceived status of which they have no ability to change such as race. The second characteristic of these crimes is known as the capacity for secondary victimization. This dimension of hate crimes involves the intention of affecting a wide range of the targeted population as a whole, and not just the specific target(s) at hand. ...