Strategy: Support for Hate Crime Victims
Strategy Providing support services and educational programs helps victims of hate crimes. Crime Problem Addressed While it is important . . .
Providing support services and educational programs helps victims of hate crimes.
Crime Problem Addressed
While it is important to punish and educate perpetrators of hate crimes and inform the public of the problem, it is equally important to provide services to the victims of hate crimes. Victims can benefit from services to help them cope with the many emotional, physical, and financial impacts of such crimes. Providing services for the victims helps them overcome the trauma and signals the community's intolerance for hate crimes.
In addition to support groups for victims of hate crimes, groups who are targets for hate crimes often receive education on violence prevention, discrimination, and safety from community-based organizations and/or law enforcement agencies. This education prepares groups who may be victimized to avoid confrontation and suggests ways of handling it if it does occur. It also encourages people to report bias-related crimes.
Victim support outreach groups, religious institutions, or other community organizations offer services to members of groups targeted for hate crimes. Law enforcement agencies also play an integral role with the community members by responding to reports and preventing revictimization through education and visibility.
First, support services must receive publicity so that people will report their victimization and seek help. Funding for such support services tends to be limited; therefore, it is important to have strong partnerships with different community-based organizations. Support services depend heavily on volunteers, so active participation and recruitment is important.
Signs of Success
Support groups for victims provide comfort, education, and open discussion for people in need. They are an effective means of uniting people who share the same problems, concerns, or interests. Additionally, victims are more apt to report their victimization if they know there is a recognized resource. In response to these facts, there are a growing number of services for minority groups and refugee communities. For example, the Willows Police Department provides the Southeast Asian refugees in the California community with translators, information on gang prevention, community crime prevention tactics, "Clan" information, and other services. The St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department provides services for St. Paul's Southeast Asian refugee population and focuses on gang prevention strategies.
Applying the Strategy
The Horizons Anti-Violence Project in Chicago offers services to victims of hate crimes. It particularly focuses on the gay community, but other groups can also solicit its services. From January 1988 to July 1994, Horizons has served 1,826 clients.