|VOLUME 29, NUMBER 1 - January 1998 Psychologists call for assault on hate crimes Hate crimes demand unique legal, psychological and policy responses. By Jeannine Mjoseth |
Monitor staff H ate crimes constitute a unique class of violence against a persons identity, demanding distinctive psychological, legislative and policy responses, psychologists said at a briefing co-sponsored by APA and the Society for the Psychology Study of Social Issues. The briefing, timed to correspond with a larger White House Conference on Hate Crimes, was attended by representatives from 24 House and Senate offices, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) who recounted his experience as a hate crimes survivor during the civil rights movement. Four distinct motives underlie hate crimes based on sexual orientation, according to research by Karen Franklin, PhD, forensic psychology fellow at Washington Universitys Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training. Such hate crimes are motivated by self-defense, where perpetrators interpret the victims actions as a sexual proposition; ideology, where perpetrators view themselves as enforcers of social norms that deem homosexuality unacceptable; thrill-seeking, where perpetrators commit assaults to alleviate boredom; and peer dynamics, where perpetrators aim to prove their toughness and heterosexuality to friends, she found. When addressing ethnically based hate crimes, the highest rate of crime occurs when nonwhites rapidly move into previously all-white enclaves, said Donald Green, PhD, professor of political science and director of the Institute for Social Policy Studies at Yale University. Its not just how white the neighborhood is but also how rapid the changes are, he said. Green, who helped train the New Haven, Conn., police department how to deal with hate crimes, says such crimes probably will increase in the suburbs in the next few years as more minorities move there, and it is important for the police to be prepared and respond appropriately.