The number of reported hate crimes at schools and colleges nearly doubled between 2018 and 2022, according to data released Monday by the FBI
About 1,300 hate crimes were reported in elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges in 2022, up from 700 in 2018 — an increase of about 90 percent, according to the report, the first on the subject to be issued by the federal government.
Black Americans were the most frequent victims, with a total of 1,690 hate crimes reported against them over the five-year period, followed by LGBTQ people with 900 offenses. Jewish Americans were third, with 745 reported violations.
The statistics count crimes against students or others inside school buildings and on college campuses.
Although FBI officials did not provide an explanation for the rising numbers, the nation’s education system experienced a high degree of politicization during the period covered by the report.
After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, a national movement drew attention to racism in every aspect of American life, including schools, which could have led to an increase in reporting. There has also been a strong backlash to this movement, which may have motivated some hate crimes.
The period covered by the new data ends in 2022. But it is of great interest to many educators and policymakers who are considering how the Israel-Gaza war has shaken the nation’s school systems. Since the conflict began in October 2023, there have been widespread reports of increased incidents of bias in schools against Jewish, Arab and Muslim students. Organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group, have called for action from policymakers.
The new report lists a total of 71 anti-Islamic hate crimes and 32 anti-Arab crimes occurring in schools between 2018 and 2022. There are fewer American Muslims than American Jews.
Overall, many crime experts believe that hate crimes are victim-driven. And in recent years, some local police departments have not reported their own hate crime data to the FBI, making it likely that the national data is an undercount of even reported hate crimes.
According to the new report, the most common type of hate crime reported in schools was bullying, which the federal government defines as unlawfully causing another person to fear physical harm through the use of threatening words or other actions. Almost as common was vandalism or destruction of property, which can include graffiti using hateful symbols or words. The third most common offense was simple assault, which is a physical attack without a weapon, and in which the victim is not seriously injured.
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More hate crimes were reported at elementary and secondary schools than at colleges and universities, according to the FBI report. The number of reported offenses fell in 2020, during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when most schools were closed, and then rose significantly after that, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers by 2022.
However, children and young adults were more likely to experience hate crimes outside of school than in schools and colleges, according to the federal data.
The 90 percent increase in hate crimes in schools appeared to outpace the overall increase in hate crimes nationally over the same period. A total of around 13,300 hate crimes were reported in 2022, up from 8,500 in 2018, an increase of around 60%.
Outside of schools, the most frequently victimized groups were the same as in schools: Black Americans, LGBTQ people, and Jewish Americans.