According to Petrosino (2003: 10) hate crimes can be defined as "..the victimisation of minorities due to their racial or ethnic identity by members of the majority. " (p. 4) Hate crimes are also known as bias-motivated crimes because the crimes are motivated by a bias towards a person or persons including but not limited to those of a different gender, ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation. Hate crimes are quite serious and have severe and long lasting-effects for the targeted victims. Due to the severe nature of the crimes many countries have strict laws in place to punish offenders. Hate crime is not widely discussed in Canadian society because it has not been a prominent issue until now. “..The extent of the problem in Canada was limited to a small number of persons, such activity could create a climate of malice and destructiveness to the values of our society (Cohen Report, 1966:24). As a result of the committee’s efforts, Parliament amended the Criminal Code in 1970, thus rendering hate propaganda as a punishable offence (Law Reform Commission of Canada, 1986:7)
There are several reasons why offenders commit hate crimes, they vary from case to case, however, one key element is fear which is caused by ignorance. The offenders fear the unknown and the competition they feel that exists, them vs. the ‘others’. When fear is accompanied by other factors it could potentially lead to a violent crime. “The
economic or social success some minorities have attained may result in increased feelings of resentment by members of the larger population. As Levin & McDevitt (1993:48) argue, resentment can be found to some extent in the personality of most hate crime offenders. It may be directed toward a particular group or merely aimed at society as a whole.” (Janhevich, 2001:10)
Statistics Canada has reported a 35% increase in bias-motivated crimes from 2007 to 2008 with the Jewish and black communities being the primary targets. Of the 1,036
reported hate crimes 55% were motivated by race or ethnicity. Attacks amongst the homosexual population also saw an increase, the amount doubled from 2007 to 2008 with three-quarters of the incidents being of a violent nature. (Stats Canada, 2010) Youth among the ages of 12 and 17 committed 38% of all hate crimes reported in 2006,
however, they were also the highest targeted age group [of violent hate crimes] followed by those among the ages of 18 and 24. Victims...