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One in 10 US hate crimes occur at schools, FBI says

Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia, U.S., September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jay Paul/File Photo

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – As many as one in 10 hate crimes in the U.S. take place at schools – from kindergarten through college – according to an FBI report released on Monday, with Black students the most frequent targets, followed by Jewish and LGBTQ victims.

Schools were the third most frequent location for hate crimes – after residences and roadways or alleys – from 2018 to 2022, even though most schools experienced months of closures during the 2020-2021 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has seen a marked increase in hate crimes – defined by the FBI as an offense motivated by bias against race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender – in recent years. The FBI’s compilation of crime data shows the number of reported bias crimes went from around 8,500 in 2018 to more than 13,300 in 2022, a record high.

The number of reported hate incidents in schools rose even more rapidly, nearly doubling over the five-year period from 700 in 2018 to 1,336 in 2022. The latter figure represented 10% of all hate crimes reported in the country.

Nearly two-thirds of the offenses took place in kindergarten-through-12th grade schools.

Most experts say hate crimes are typically undercounted, since they rely on subjective evaluations by law enforcement agencies as to whether there was a discriminatory intent. In addition, many victims choose not to report their experiences to police for fear of reprisal, experts say.

The war in Gaza, which began in October after Hamas militants attacked Israel, has led to a spike in both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents across the U.S., according to advocacy groups.

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