Victims of Hate Speech

Publication Date:

Dec 27, 2018

Key facts about victims of hate speech

  • The proportion of students ages 12 to 18 who reported that hate-related words were directed at them during school in the past year declined from 1999 to 2015, from 13 to 7 percent.[1]
  • While overall rates of reported hate speech differ only slightly for males and females, males report higher rates of race- and ethnicity-related hate speech, while females report higher rates of gender-related hate speech.
  • The highest rate of hate speech reported by students was race-related. Among the racial/ethnic groups included in this indicator, Asian students had the highest rate of reported hate speech, while non-Hispanic white students had the lowest (8.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively).

Trends in hate speech victimization

The total proportion of students ages 12 to 18 who reported being targets of hate-related words (defined as “a derogatory or bad name concerning race, religion, Hispanic origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation”) at school during the previous year declined from 1999 to 2015, from 13 to 7 percent. A large part of that decline can be attributed to a reduction in the percentage of students who reported hate-related words referring to gender, which decreased by more than half from 2001 to 2015 (2.8 to 1.3 percent).

In 2015, students were most likely to report hate-related words referring to their race (3.2 percent), followed by ethnicity (1.8 percent). Rates of students being targeted for their religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation were around 1 percent each (Appendix 1).

Differences by gender

Although the overall percentage of students who reported being victims of hate speech differed only slightly for males and females in 2015 (8 and 7 percent, respectively), a higher percentage of females than males reported being targets of hate-related words based on gender (1.9 and 0.6 percent). Males reported being the target of race- or ethnicity-related hate speech more often than females (3.9 and 2.4 percent for race, and 2.3 and 1.2 percent for ethnicity, respectively). Rates reported by males and females were similar for hate speech relating to religion, disability, and sexual orientation (Appendix 2).

Differences by race and Hispanic origin*

In 2015, Asian and non-Hispanic black students were more likely to report being the victim of hate speech than their non-Hispanic white peers (11 and 9 percent, respectively, compared with 6 percent of white students) (Appendix 1).

Non-Hispanic white students reported the lowest rates of hate speech relating to race or ethnicity compared to any of their peers in 2015. Additionally in 2015, Asians reported higher rates of experiencing hate-related words regarding either race or ethnicity than Hispanic students and non-Hispanic black students (Appendix 2).

*From 2003 onward, students were given the option of identifying themselves as belonging to more than one race. After that year, non-Hispanic students who identified themselves as belonging to more than one race (1 percent of respondents) were included in the “other” category. Respondents who identified themselves as being of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of their race.

Differences by urbanicity

In 2015, suburban students had the highest rate of reported hate-related speech in the last year, followed by urban students and rural students, at 8 percent, 7 percent, and 5 percent, respectively (Appendix 1).

Data and appendices

Data source

  • Data for 2001 to 2015: Musu-Gillette, L., Zhang, A., Wang, K., Zhang, J., & Oudekerk, B. A. (2017). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2016 (NCES 2017-064/NCJ 250650) [Table 10.1]. Washington, DC: S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics & U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017064.pdf.
  • Data by type of hate speech for 2001 to 2015: S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics & U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2002–2017). Indicators of school crime and safety: 20022016. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbse&sid=8.
  • All data for 1999: Kaufman, P., Chen, X., Choy, S. P., Peter, K., Ruddy S. A., et al. (2001). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2001 (NCES 2002-113/NCJ 190075) [Table 14.1]. Washington, DC: S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics & U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=991.

Raw data source

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1999–2015.

http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=245

Appendices

Appendix 1. Percentage of Students Ages 12 to 18 Who Reported Being Targets of Hate Speech at School during the School Year, by Selected Student Characteristics: Select Years, 1999–2015

Appendix 2. Percentage of Students Ages 12 to 18 Who Reported Being Targets of Hate Speech at School during the School Year, by Type of Hate-Related Word and Selected Student Characteristics: 2015

Background

Definition

For the purposes of this indicator, a hate-related word is “a derogatory or bad name concerning race, religion, Hispanic origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.” Students were asked if anyone had called them a hate-related word at school in the past school year; prior to 2007, the question asked about the previous six months (cognitive testing found that estimates are comparable). “At school” means in the school building, on school property, on a school bus, or going to and from school.

Endnotes

[1] Beginning in 2007, the reference period was the school year, whereas in prior survey years, the reference period was the previous six months. Cognitive testing showed that estimates are comparable.

Suggested Citation

Child Trends Databank. (2018). Victims of hate speech. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=victims-of-hate-speech